Alzheimer's Drugs: Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl - Banned

Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl considered "not cost effective"

28.06.2007

Health officials have banned Alzheimer's drugs which could potentially transform the lives of sufferers.

Despite asking patients for their opinions on the drugs and being told of how the drugs had dramatically changed their lives for the better, the health officials failed to be swayed.

Instead, the High Court heard, the £2.50 a day tablets which alleviate the devastating symptoms were declared not cost-effective and were banned last year in England and Wales. However, the drugs still remain available in Scotland.

The drugs, Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl are used to treat the mild and moderate stages of the disease, and up to half of those who try them see an improvement in their condition.

This decision by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) means that 100,000 new Alzheimer's patients a year are being denied funding for the drugs which can slow the cruel decline into dementia.

A high court challenge was made against NICE after Daily Mail readers donated to the cause. The court heard that the Alzheimer's Society supplied 4,000 examples to NICE detailing the benefits of the treatment to both sufferers and carers. In addition, NICE carried out its own consultation and received 7,000 responses.

NICE decided last year that the benefit of these drugs did not justify their cost. As a result of this, the only patients to receive funding for the drugs are those who were diagnosed before the decision, and those considered moderate sufferers of the disease.

Though the drugs are not available on the NHS, they can be bought over the counter at high street pharmacies, with a prescription from a GP consultant.

In its defence in court, NICE said the drugs, known as inhibitors, were a long way off being cost-effective for those with mild forms of the disease.

The hearing is expected to last four days with judgement being delivered in a few weeks.

Public law solicitor comments

Yogi Amin, a partner at Irwin Mitchell who works in the Public Law Unit, said: "NICE is a public body and their decisions about the clinical or cost effectiveness of new treatments are subject to judicial review, just like an NHS Primary Care Trust's decisions are subject to judicial review.

In this way we would expect to see more patients, and drug companies, using the courts to challenge decisions unless there is absolute clarity into the decision making processes used by NICE to establish whether or not to recommend these drugs"

If you feel you have been unfairly denied treatment, our solicitors can help take action. Speak to someone now on 0370 1500 100.