UK health body bans Alzheimer’s drugs on NHS

London: Alzheimer’s sufferers in the UK are being refused drugs that could help them until their symptoms get worse.

The Government’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has turned down appeals to allow the drugs, Aricept, Exelon and REminyl, which cost about £2.50 a day for all sufferers. Only patients with moderate symptoms of the disease will be offered treatment Ebixa not allowed at all

The ban on their use for new patients within the state’s NHS is set to take effect from November 22 with existing patients with mild Alzheimer’s allowed to continue.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, was critical of the decision which he said risked the health of thousands to save just £2.50 a day.

He added: ‘This blatant cost-cutting will rob people of priceless time early in the disease and later clinicians will have no choice but to use dangerous sedatives that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. This is victimisation of the most vulnerable in society.’

He claimed there had been ‘ fundamental flaws’ in the appraisal process which never took account of the savings the drugs make to a carer’s time. He called for the Government to intervene, although campaigners and the drug companies may apply for judicial review of the decision.