Pratchett slams Aricept decision18th August 2008
Author Terry Pratchett has told the BBC that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s ruling regarding the drug Aricept "feels like an insult".
Pratchett spoke to the Panorama programme the NHS Postcode Lottery – It Could Be You about NICE’s choice to control how the drug is given to people under health service care who have late stage Alzheimer’s disease. The organisation have deemed the drug is "not cost-effective in the early stages".
The author, whose books have been purchased by 55 million people across the world, was diagnosed with PCA – a form of dementia – in 2007.
He told Panorama that he had been informed about Aricept by his doctor immediately after he was told he had the disease, but she originally told him she would not be able to offer him a prescription.
"I didn't have a specialist at that time and so I was a bit in limbo," he said. "I think she took pity and sort of did it."
Pratchett said he now paid in order to ensure he received the drug.
The head of NICE, Andrew Dillon, told Panorama it "isn't the right decision for the health service to make treatment available until patients, as they inevitably will, move into the moderate stage of the disease."
The original guidance published in 2001 said Aricept should be given to patients "as standard". However, revised guidance from 2006 said the drug should only be given to patients who had "moderate-stage" Alzheimer’s.
"It is a really nasty disease and I cannot imagine cancer patients being denied a drug like this in similar circumstances," Pratchett said.
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