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NICE draft guidance extends recommendations on Alzheimer's drugs

NICE is proposing to update its guidance on the use of four drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer´s disease. The draft guidance extends NICE's recommendation for the use of three of the drugs - Donepezil (Aricept, Eisai/Pfizer), galantamine (Reminyl, Shire) and rivastigmine (Exelon, Novartis) - to include mild, as well as moderate disease. It also recommends the use of memantine (Ebixa, Lundbeck) for severe disease and for some patients with moderate disease.

Chief Executive, Sir Andrew Dillon said: "Since we published our guidance in September 2007 clinical trials have continued to show the positive effects of these drugs and, in the case of memantine, have reduced the uncertainty about its clinical effectiveness. In addition, we now have more information about the costs of living with and treating this very distressing disease, as it progresses through its mild, moderate and severe stages.

He continued: "Our increased confidence in the benefits and costs associated with the use of the three drugs for treating mild and moderate stages of the disease has enabled us to make a positive recommendation for their use in mild disease."

Interim Chief Executive, Alzheimer's Society, Ruth Sutherland said: "This decision stands to benefit hundreds of thousands of people. The drugs aren't a miracle cure but they can make important differences to people's lives. For the price of a cup of coffee they can mean the difference between recognising your loved ones and playing with your grandchildren. It is critical that this draft decision becomes a reality and that all people with Alzheimer's are given the opportunity to benefit from these treatments. It will be important to ensure any new guidance is monitored closely to end postcode prescribing and ensure these drugs are available across the country."

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Notes to Editors

About the appraisal

1. The guidance is available on the Alzheimer's disease - donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine and memantine (review) webpage.

2. Donepezil (Aricept, Eisai/Pfizer), galantamine (Reminyl, Shire) and rivastigmine (Exelon, Novartis) are recommended within their licensed indications for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease as options for managing Alzheimer's disease. Memantine (Ebixa, Lundbeck) is recommended as an option in managing Alzheimer's disease for people with moderate Alzheimer's disease who are intolerant of or have a contraindication to AChE inhibitors, or people with severe Alzheimer's disease.

About NICE

3. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.

4. NICE produces guidance in three areas of health:

  • public health - guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention of ill health for those working in the NHS, local authorities and the wider public and voluntary sector
  • health technologies - guidance on the use of new and existing medicines, treatments and procedures within the NHS
  • clinical practice - guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS.

About Alzheimer's Society

5. Alzheimer's Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and the millions of people who care for them

6. Alzheimer's Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

7. Alzheimer's Society supports people to live well with dementia today and funds research to find a cure for tomorrow. We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk

8. Alzheimer's Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0845 300 0336 or visit alzheimers.org.uk

9. Press Office: 0207 423 3595 press@alzheimers.org.uk

This page was last updated: 18 January 2011

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Accessibility | Cymraeg | Freedom of information | Vision Impaired | Contact Us | Glossary | Data protection | Copyright | Disclaimer | Terms and conditions

Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.