Restriction on Alzheimer’s drugs by Nice condemned

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has been condemned today by campaigners for rejecting an appeal against its decision to restrict NHS access to four Alzheimer’s drugs.

The result means Nice will issue final guidance to the NHS that donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine should not be prescribed for people with early or severe Alzheimer’s, and reserved for those in the moderate stages of the condition.

The other drug, Memantine, will only be recommended for clinical studies.

Five appeals.were brought by a number of charities and drugs companies.

James McKillop, chair of the Scottish Dementia Working Group, a campaigning organisation run by people with dementia, said: “I heard the news with disbelief.  I know so many people in the early stages of dementia who have been helped by the drugs, the progress of their illness has been delayed and their quality of life dramatically improved.”

Help the Aged’s senior policy manager Jonathan Ellis said: “On the one hand, the government says it is committed to improving care for older people, while on the other Nice is blocking access to treatment which would help them retain their independence and dignity.  This is botched policy making at its worst.”

But Nice chief executive Andrew Dillon said: “We have to be honest and say that, based on all the evidence, our experts have concluded that these drugs do not make enough of a difference for us to recommend their use for treating all stages of Alzheimer’s disease.”

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