Alzheimer's to challenge 'cruel' decision to deny treatments

Dementia charity the Alzheimer's Society has been given the go ahead to mount a legal challenge to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's decision to deny drug treatments to NHS patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease

The charity will act as an interested party in the first judicial review of a decision made by NICE. Representing dementia patients and their carers, it will support the main claimants, the pharmaceutical companies Eisai and Pfizer.

Alzheimer's Society chief executive Neil Hunt said the cost of funding the treatments would be just £2.50 a day. “Denying people in the early stages of this debilitating disease access to drug treatments is cruel and unethical,” he added. “Our legal team will also demonstrate that the decision is fundamentally flawed.”

The appeal that the society launched in February to fund its role in the has so far raised £250,000. A spokeswoman said the money had made a “significant difference” to the charity’s ability to play a full part in the review, a date for which has not yet been set.

“We feel strongly that taking part in this was something we had to do,” she said. “We will have our own legal representatives, who will be able to bring forward arguments that other claimants can’t specific to the people we represent. We could have made the decision to bring a whole separate case but the two would have come together anyway and the financial impact on us would have been greater.”

Last Friday the society also submitted evidence to the Health Select Committee's inquiry into the remit of NICE.

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