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100,000 a year ‘to be refused drug’


Nearly 100,000 Alzheimer’s sufferers a year will be refused drugs currently used by the NHS to fight the disease, the UK’s Court of Appeal has been told.

The manufacturer of Aricept – one of the acetyle cholinesterase inhibitor class of drugs – is fighting a decision to restrict access to patients in the later stages of the disease.

David Pannick QC, representing pharmaceutical company Eisai, said the latest guidance ruling by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) will have “a very substantial effect upon the availability and the potential duration of treatment” with the drugs.

He said: “The evidence suggests that, when the guidance takes full effect (for no mild AD sufferer will have current treatment discontinued as a result of the guidance), annually 96,600 patients with mild AD will be refused treatment with AChEIs that would have been made available.”

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NICE ruled the drugs are not cost-effective for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s – a decision upheld by the High Court last year.

Eisai is claiming that NICE did not follow a fair and transparent process in reaching its decision.

NICE had decided in 2004 that the drugs, which cost about £2.50 a day, did not make enough of a difference to recommend them for all patients.

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