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Nice decision on Alzheimer's drugs was 'perverse'

9th January 2007

The Alzheimer's Society has again condemned the government drugs watchdog for its decision not to make certain Alzheimer's drugs available for early stage sufferers on the NHS.

Chief executive Neil Hunt said the decision, by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), not to license Aricept and other early-stage medication was "particularly perverse".

"We are challenging Nice's final decision about this in the High Court," he told Radio 4's You and Yours.

"We are convinced they are wrong, the way they have approached this is wrong. Backed by the energetic support of our members we want to test this legally."

He added that the drugs, which cost the NHS around £2.50 a day, could save carers a daily average of an hour and a half.

Diagnostic tests for deciding eligibility for the drugs had "lots of discriminatory aspects", he argued.

While Mr Hunt supported the work of Nice, he stressed the decision needed "to be subject to scrutiny".

In October 2006, Nice rejected an appeal to make donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine available to treat people suffering from moderate Alzheimer's, saying the drugs "did not make enough of a difference".