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Alzheimer's drug decision challenge

17th November 2006

09082006_alzheimers1.jpgDrugs watchdog NICE is set to face its first legal challenge over it’s decision to restrict the use of Alzheimer's medication on the NHS.

Campaigners have repeatedly argued patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's should also have access to the drugs, which they say would cost only £2.50 per day.

Now two drug companies plan to apply for a judicial review of the way the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence reached its conclusion.

NICE has ruled NHS patients with newly diagnosed, mild Alzheimer's disease should not be prescribed the drugs, which include donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine, produced by Eisai and Pfizer.

The companies claim the conclusions are 'irrational’ and have asked NICE to delay their final recommendations and provide a full version of how they calculated the cost effectiveness of the medications.

They want NICE to withdraw the recommendations and postpone issuing its final guidance, which is due on 22 November.

Although there have been a number of appeals against NICE decisions, if the judicial review goes ahead it would be the first time a NICE decision has been contested at this level.

The Alzheimer's Society is planning a number of protest marches across the country calling for doctors to have greater flexibility in prescribing Alzheimer's treatments.

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