Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Alzheimer's Disease - to treat or not to treat?

We hear today that a decision has been made not to approve the prescribing of some new drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease. Click here for details

We all know that the NHS is cash strapped and we all know there are priorities that must be funded. The process for approving drugs goes through the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. We all know that not all drugs are affordable.

That is the ‘official’ and the ‘political’ line and I am certainly not qualified to comment on the medical aspects of this drug.

Alzheimer's disease is something that affects an estimated 750,000 patients in the UK. Their stressed and exhausted carers often suffer as much – if not more than the patient!

How to agree priorities will always be the biggest challenge faced by the NHS and I do not have magic bullet answers.

Our individual priorities will vary and probably influenced by personal or family experience of poor health.

I would like to see Alzheimer's disease given a higher priority and if it comes to choice between closure of under-used hospitals and spending more money on older people suffering from Alzheimer's disease them my money will go on treating people suffering from Alzheimer's disease …. But I accept this is not an easy decision for the NHS.

Surely we owe this to the older people in our population.

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