New drugs on NHS to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s

PEOPLE living with Alzheimer’s in Uttlesford will now be able to access drugs on the NHS that can slow the progression of the disease.

The development comes following final guidance published on Tuesday by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). The decision is a reversal of NICE’s previous position – in place since 2007 – limiting access to only those in the moderate stages of the disease.

Alzheimer’s Society services across the country have been holding celebrations to mark the occasion.

Locality manager for Essex Claire Lance said: “Many people campaigned for years on this issue, so this is a tremendous day.”

The drugs – Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl – will now be available on prescription for people in the early and moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease. These treatments have up to now been restricted to people in the moderate stages.

A fourth drug, called Ebixa, will also be made available to people in the moderate to late stages.

“These drugs don’t work for everybody and the size of benefit varies,” said Mrs Lance.

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“However, when the drug treatments do work, people tell us that taking the tablets can be like ‘a fog lifting’.

“They can help them remember the names of their grandchildren, how to make a cup of tea, or the address of the house they have lived in for the past 30 years. These things can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.

“The next step is to make sure people are diagnosed early and for them to receive the treatment, support and advice that they desperately need.

There are currently 465,000 people living with Alzheimer’s in the UK and a further 62,000 people are developing Alzheimer’s each year. In Uttlesford, there are more than 1300 people with dementia of which Alzheimer’s is the most common form.