Thursday, 7 October 2010

A Nice U-turn by NICE.

Will our elderly and vulnerable be respected and given the drug treatment they deserve?

Thousands of patients with early stage Alzheimer's could now benefit from drug treatment following a U-turn by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).  Presently, doctors are unable to prescribe donepezil, rivastigimine and galantamine to early stage patients to enable them to retain their mental faculties longer.

In 2005, NICE ruled that no Alzheimer sufferer should receive these drugs on the NHS (based on efficacy of treatment and value for money), and they then conceded in 2007 that only patients with moderate disease should receive them.

However, the decision was contested by drug companies and the Alzheimer's Society who queried the 'secret formula' used by NICE to calculate value for money.  The case went to the House of Lords and the secret formula was amended after NICE conceded technical inaccuracies.  This did not lead to a change in outcome.

Further campaigning by doctors, patients, families and the Alzheimer's Society has led to the new guidelines and recommendations.

NICE has also ruled that a fourth drug Ebixa should be made available for those with severe forms of Alzheimer's and for some with moderate disease.

It does appear to be good news!  In fact, brilliant news!

Anna G :o]

PS  For those of you who doubt the integrity of drug companies - you might find this interesting  which I stumbled across while researching. 

3 comments:

drphilyerboots said...

One of the problems with the NICE process, is that they do change their minds if a well organised campaign is organised. Drug companies are fully aware of this, and help finance the campaigns. Pfizer gave £28000 to the Alzheimers society last year.

So cost efficacy decisions are over ridden if there are enough Daily Mail headlines. I am not sure that this is wise, it sets up the next campaign for a NICE rejected drug.

In a condition as demoralising as Alzheimers there is a strong desire for effective drugs, but desire is not efficacy.

Hypercryptical said...

Thanks for your comment drphil.

You are of course, correct on all counts.

However, AchEIs can offer (to some) a temporary reprieve in symptoms, in particular, behaviour, cognition and functional ability.

If this reprieve lasts, say for a year, cost effectiveness comes to the fore, especially in respect of unpaid carers.

Meds costs per annum of £1,092 v care home costs of a minimum of £26,000? I know which appears the most sensible to me. But, I guess it depends on where the funding is coming from and the NHS doesn't have the luxury of a bottomless money pit.

It is a sad thing that Alzheimers - along with most other dementia's - is a progressive disease for which there is no cure. But given the chance of a (temporary) reprieve in symptoms as against nothing at all - I would take it.

Amma :o]

drphilyerboots said...

I would take it also, and may need it as my dotage is fast approaching!