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NICE 'overlooking benefits of Alzheimer's treatment for carers'

16th November 2005

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has failed to take the benefits for carers of treatment for Alzheimer's disease into account, according to a UK charity.

The Alzheimer's Society claims that NICE has neglected to factor in the potential benefits to carers when deciding whether it is cost effective to provide certain treatments on the NHS.

Clive Evers, the Alzheimer's Society's director of information, claims that the NICE cost effectiveness testing system, which balances the net cost of treatment against the likely benefits, has failed to consider factors such as the benefits of treatments to the families of sufferers.

He told the BBC: "They have not taken into account of the effect of the drugs on carers' time. For example we know that for people who have been on the drugs, carers say that they are able to save at least an extra hour a day as a result of the improvements in people. We know that carers' health improves as the patient is making less demands."

Three drugs used in the treatment of dementia were approved by NICE for general prescription for certain Alzheimer's patients four years ago, but the decision was reversed earlier this year after they failed to pass the medical quango's cost effectiveness test.

Following a public outcry, NICE, the body that governs which drugs are available on the NHS, has agreed to review the decision. The drugs concerned cost around £2.50 per day and the results of the review are expected in January 2006.