Alzheimer's drug U-turn: Your comments

Current rules prevent NHS doctors prescribing donepezil (Aricept) to treat the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

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Hundreds of thousands more patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease could get drug treatments following a U-turn by the health watchdog.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, covering England and Wales, now says evidence backs the use of drugs for "mild" symptoms.

The availability of drugs for the condition on the NHS has been source of controversy for almost a decade.

BBC News website readers have been sending in their comments.

Your comments

Having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's recently this news has completely changed my expectations from huge anxiety and terror of slowly experiencing a gradual decline to fully blown Alzheimer's - to hope that this decision by NICE will enable me to continue to lead a full and active life for many more years to come! This is a humane and wonderful decision for thousands of people who had no hope of any change until it was too late to lead an positive and active life in the community.

Suzanne, London, UK

And the price of all those 31,000 cups of coffee every day - even if patients only get the lowest dose - is £31m per year. What would you cut to fund this?

Christopher, Birmingham, UK

Without the drug if it helps, it would cost far more in care costs. So everyone benefits. There is nothing worse than seeing an intelligent, independent member of your family retrun to being a child.

Christine, Billericay,UK

This is good news but why do they go on about the low cost. Yes, only £2.80 per day but if possible 31,000 new patients take them that equals over £31 million pound extra for the NHS to find each year. That is why they can only be recommended when evidence supports and not before

Susan, Southampton, UK

This may be very good news for my family, and especially for my Father who is 92, and still caring for his wife(my Mother) who is 88 and has dementia in the moderate/ severe stage. He had promised her previously, that he would not put her into a home, but we all know how he is struggling. I, in particular, understand this as I care and support their life at their own home. If, at least we could try a drug, we would not expect a 'miracle cure' but if it meant their daily lives could be improved even just a little, it would make a huge difference and make it possible for us to cope for longer!

Margaret, Bicknacre, UK

My father was one of the lucky ones who was prescribed Aricept several years ago and the difference it made was remarkable.His quality of life improved, his interaction with family and friends has improved. He has now been on a consistent level with no sign of further deterioration for over two years (God willing we will a lot more time with him than was expected when he was diagnosed).

Jim, Middlesbrough, UK

Thank god for someone seeing sense. My Mum has dementia & I would have given anything to have some treatment, but we were told there was nothing. I have watched as my mum has disappeared, to now she doesn't know who I am. She has worked all her life & now nothing. She has had this for the last 6 years and she is only 73 now. So much for retirement, is this what we all have to look forward to? Is this why the Government is raising pension age? So we will all be dead or living dead and can't claim our so called pensions. Give the drugs if they only help a little its better than nothing. The workers of this country have paid in, so they should be entitled. Don't pay in, don't get the benefits.

Shirley, UK

The main problem with Aricept and similar drugs is the well documented side effects which prevent many people from continuing with the treatment. Ironically, a much cheaper drug, Colostrinin is now available as a neutraceutical and would cost the NHS less than 50p per day. It is clinically tested, available and has none of the side effects associated with the more expensive drugs. Why is it not being discussed? I can only assume Colostrinin is not in the public eye because it is not owned by the big pharmaceutical companies with big marketing budgets. There is a small but growing group of people over 50 now using Colostrinin worldwide, it should be available to anyone in this country aged 50 or over.

Paul, Preston, UK

My husband, who is 79 years old, was diagnosed in 2002 with Alzheimer's and at the moment he is only on the anti-depressant Citalopram. The facilities for him in Romsey are minimal and the GP suggests he needs stimulation, which is very difficult for me, his carer, to supply. Staying in bed is his preference and he does sleep a lot and we would, obviously, welcome trying Exiba as it might help, I hope it can be prescribed as it is now available.

Mary, Romsey, UK

hank goodness NICE has finally accepted that Alzheimer's drugs can offer a beneficial effect in early stages Alzheimer's. It's a shame that they didn't listen to the 'experts' 4 years ago - the patients, their carers and the doctors treating them. Are they going to apologise for the loss of time and quality of life which can never be recovered? Is there going to be any acknowledgement that delaying this vital treatment will cause increased impairment to patients, stress to carers and expense to the Health service that could have been avoided?

Chris, Macclesfield, UK

My mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when she was 63. She was lucky enough to be given Aricept. Of course we have no way of knowing whether she would have been worse off if not getting the drug, but watching this terrible disease steal a bit of my mum away every day would have been even more unbearable in the knowledge that a treatment was being denied her. When Alzheimer's devastates your family you clutch at all straws before watching your loved one descend into their helpless, uncommunicative existence. I think Aricept kept mum with us for a few extra years, although sometimes I wonder whether it makes the sufferer more aware of their hopeless situation for even longer, rather than letting them descend gently into the fog.

Anne, Pilton, UK

My mother (90 years of age and with moderate Alzheimer's), has been on Ebixa(Memantine) for a number of years and although her psychiatrist recommended this drug initially, it has only been available on private prescription. The cost is approximately £270 for three month's supply (relatively cheap for the results obtained), but now I would be interested to know if there is any way I can obtain a refund for all the drugs I have purchased "privately" up to date.

Jill, Worksop, UK

The worst part for me, as a carer of my wife suffering from the disease is, the total blank received from the doctors when I try to get help, it's almost as if they are saying that I am imagining the condition and that the subject is unmensionable. Let's hope this decision is in time and can help many patients and their carers!

Brian, St Austell, UK

I am an Alzheimer's sufferer and have been since diagnosed with the disease in 2008. An immediate MRI Scan confirmed the diagnosis. I have been on Galantamine 16mg for two years. The diagnosis was quick.

Gerald, Eastleigh, UK

This is good news but what is meant by 'moderate' and 'mild' and what criteria will be used to place a patient in either one of these categories?

Sue, UK

My mother is 90 and was diagnosed with the mild stages of Alzheimer's 3 years ago. We are lucky in Wales as we pick up a prescription for donepezil directly from the hospital's Memory Clinic. I heard the Radio 4 interview in the car this morning and was astounded at the arrogance of the NICE reppresentative in justifying their early decision not to support these drugs.

Robin, Cardiff, UK

I will be affected by this decision as it is an issue I have been passionate about for nearly 11 years now. I have family members with dementia, whilst relatively uncommon in Bangladeshi communities, for complicated reasons. I have now been reviewing the evidence for cholinesterase inhibitors since the original Rogers et al (1999) papers in Dementia. As a person closely involved with the Alzheimer's Disease research here in the UK, and having returned from the Alzheimer's Society conference in Warwick only recently, I cannot over-express how delighted I am at this very welcome news. This will certainly make a huge difference to the quality-of-life of patient and their immediates

Shibley, London, UK

This news is wonderful. Too late for us though as the doctors wouldn't prescribe anything for my aunt (who lived alone, miles from any relatives) when she was diagnosed with "mild" dementia. Why bother saying early diagnosis is crucial when the doctors then don't do anything. That was just dumb. This will enable sufferers to face up to their condition better,instead of being in denial, as so often happens, and then refusing all kinds of help.

Christine, Evesham, UK

My husband Nicholas developed Alzheimers in 2004 age 55. By the time he was diagnosed NICE had stopped him from obtaining these drugs on the NHS. We then paid £300 for 2 months supply from Hammersmith Hospital and then discovered you could get them cheaper £200 for 2 months supply from our local pharmacy. These drugs immediately helped his condition and he was able to read the newspaper again which he had given up with and was much more alert. I am disgusted with NICE that the evidence was there for so long that these drugs help (not always I'm told) .At least people should benefit now albeit for a couple of years or so as my husband's condition is now severe and he is permanently in a nursing home now at the age of 61.

Jill, Ruislip, UK

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