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Judicial Review of the decision to deny access to Alzheimer’s drugs on the NHS

Published 10 August 2007

Comment from the Alzheimer’s Society in response to the findings by Justice Linda Dobbs.

neil hunt'Today we have won the very important point that NICE guidance is unlawful because it discriminated against significant groups of people.

However, the result is deeply disappointing for everyone in the early stages of Alzheimer's and their carers. Without further change to the guidance, people in the early stages of the disease will still be refused drugs because NICE considers that these people are not worth £2.50 a day. This is insulting and devastating news. People will be forced to deteriorate before they get the treatment they need. Is this the sort of society we want to live in?

NICE failed to listen to the views of thousands of carers who told them drug treatments make a huge difference to their lives. It is deeply disturbing that a public body, required to use rigorous standards of evidence based decision making, can simply guess at vital data. This is simply unacceptable.

When NICE speaks it has huge implications for people's lives. Its decision on Alzheimer's affects hundreds of thousands of people. NICE must get it right. To retain its authority as a public body it must command the confidence of the public. The result of this case must call into question whether NICE has lost that confidence. It is up to Government to consider the changes needed to stop this from happening again. We hope the health select committee inquiry will address the gaping holes in the NICE process.

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease. It gradually robs people of their lives. The Alzheimer's Society is proud to have championed the rights of people living with dementia and of our role in the significant changes made today. The campaign goes on.'

Neil Hunt
Chief executive
Alzheimer's Society