New drugs hope for sufferers of Alzheimer's disease
PATIENTS suffering early stages of dementia in the North East were given new hope today after a health watchdog performed a drugs U-turn.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) caused outrage in 2006 and 2007 when it controversially ruled that the key medicines would only be available to people in moderate stages of the disease.
Now rule changes announced today mean the medicines should now be made available to people with mild dementia – potentially benefiting hundreds of thousands of sufferers.
Campaigners argued it was “cruel and unethical” to force patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s to wait until they were worse before they could get drugs.
Last night, Alzheimer’s sufferers in the region welcomed the news that Nice had re-assessed its guidance.
Grandmother-of-four Anna Dutton, 64, a former teacher, was diagnosed with the condition four years ago when both her own and her family’s lives were turned upside down.
Speaking from their home in South Shields, her husband and carer Peter said: “Nice’s initial decision was wrong and I’m pleased they have now made a U-turn.
“It’s important those who have Alzheimer’s are put on the medication as soon as possible to help slow-down the progression of the disease.”
“There is evidence that Alzheimer’s is affecting younger people and it’s an injustice that Nice made a ruling years ago to deny access to these drugs as many more people could have been helped.”
The new guidance, which is subject to appeal, says Aricept (donepezil), Reminyl (galantamine) and Exelon (rivastigmine) will be made available to people with mild as well as moderate dementia.