Oct 7, 2010

Alzheimer's Patients to Get Alzheimer's Drugs on NHS after Government U-Turn (U.K.)

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

People banding together with a common purpose can make a difference.

Congratulations to committed people in the U.K.

After a three-year campaign by doctors, patients, families and the Alzheimer's Society, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has agreed to make drugs for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease more widely available.

The U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence said it revised the guidance after research showed how much the drugs help patients even in the early stages of the disease. NICE advises the National Health Service on the cost-effectiveness of treatments, which influences what doctors prescribe and what local authorities fund.

Previously the drugs were restricted and were only made available to patients in the moderate stage of Alzheimer's disease. Now they will be available to patients that are in the mild stage of Alzheimer's.

It is very difficult to understand why NICE made the controversial decision to restrict the drugs in 2007. While drugs like Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl are not effective for every patient with mild Alzheimer's, they have been proven to help slow the development of the disease and slow memory loss in many.

It is my belief that Aricept worked for my mother. And then later, that the combination of Aricept and Namenda worked very well.

My personal opinion based on my reading and understanding of the scientific evidence is that the combination of Aricept and Namenda should be prescribed as soon as probably Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed.

Keep in my mind I am not a doctor.

Nice issued additional guidance for Memantine (Namenda) in recommending the drug as an option in managing Alzheimer's disease for people with moderate Alzheimer's disease who are intolerant of or have a contraindication to AChE inhibitors, or people with severe Alzheimer's disease.

On a separate note: It is my belief that Alzheimer's caregivers and the broad Alzheimer's community will need to band together in the days ahead if we expect the Federal government to address the issues of Alzheimer's care in the U.S.

There is growing evidence in States like Vermont that it is more effect to pay small daily stipends to keep the elderly at home; rather than, forcing them into assisted living facilities paid for by Medicaid.

If you would like to read my partially tongue in cheek articles on this subject go here,

The Cost of the War on Alzheimer's Terrorism -- $24 a Day

Got Alzheimer's? Uncle Sammy says -- Tough Luck

NICE draft guidance extends recommendations on Alzheimer's drugs

NICE is proposing to update its guidance on the use of four drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer´s disease. The draft guidance extends NICE's recommendation for the use of three of the drugs - Donepezil (Aricept, Eisai/Pfizer), galantamine (Reminyl, Shire) and rivastigmine (Exelon, Novartis) - to include mild, as well as moderate disease. It also recommends the use of memantine (Ebixa, Lundbeck) for severe disease and for some patients with moderate disease.

Chief Executive, Sir Andrew Dillon said: "Since we published our guidance in September 2007 clinical trials have continued to show the positive effects of these drugs and, in the case of memantine, have reduced the uncertainty about its clinical effectiveness. In addition, we now have more information about the costs of living with and treating this very distressing disease, as it progresses through its mild, moderate and severe stages.

He continued: "Our increased confidence in the benefits and costs associated with the use of the three drugs for treating mild and moderate stages of the disease has enabled us to make a positive recommendation for their use in mild disease."

Interim Chief Executive, Alzheimer's Society, Ruth Sutherland said: "This decision stands to benefit hundreds of thousands of people. The drugs aren't a miracle cure but they can make important differences to people's lives. For the price of a cup of coffee they can mean the difference between recognising your loved ones and playing with your grandchildren. It is critical that this draft decision becomes a reality and that all people with Alzheimer's are given the opportunity to benefit from these treatments. It will be important to ensure any new guidance is monitored closely to end postcode prescribing and ensure these drugs are available across the country."

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,880 articles with more than 95,100 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room