Patients Denied £2.50 Drug

Alzheimer Scotland has condemned the final guidance produced by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), which says that drugs to help treat Alzheimer’s will not be available on the NHS for people in the early or late stages of the condition. The guidance states that the dementia drugs Aricept (donepezil), Reminyl (galantamine) and Exelon (rivastigmine) should only be used to treat those with moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

The decision from NICE has been made on grounds of cost effectiveness, an argument that Alzheimer Scotland states compromises the quality of life of people with dementia and their carers for the cost of two cups of coffee a day.

Alzheimer Scotland’s Policy Director Kate Fearnley says, “We are appalled by NICE’s misguided decision, which means that people diagnosed with a devastating illness are denied treatment which might help them. How can it be right to leave people to deteriorate, putting immense strain on them and their families before treating them with drugs that cost only £2.50 per day?

“The Scottish experience of treating early Alzheimer’s disease is that it is beneficial for both patients and carers. People with early Alzheimer’s disease should have the chance to try these treatments at a stage when the drugs may help them to live their lives as normally as they can, for as long as they can. Alzheimer Scotland is calling on the Scottish Executive and NHS Quality Improvement Scotland not to accept this perverse decision.”

James McKillop, Chair of the Scottish Dementia Working Group, a campaigning group run by and for people with dementia says, “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.

“If the NICE guidelines are followed in Scotland, thousands of people will be left without hope of a better future. The Scottish Dementia Working Group will be campaigning to make sure that the decision made by Quality Improvement Scotland is both more sensible and more compassionate.”