NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

British Hospitals Ration Alzheimer's Drugs

November 25, 2002

Eighteen months ago the British National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) said Alzheimer's drugs should be available to National Health Service patients. Despite this, some British health authorities have continued rationing Alzheimer's drugs. The drugs known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors slow the progress of the disease symptoms.

The survey was carried out by David Taylor, chief pharmacist at the Maudsley Hospital in London, and colleague Shubhra Mace, a senior clinical pharmacist. Earlier this year they sent questionnaires to the pharmaceutical advisers of 91 health authorities in England and Wales asking about the funding and use of the drugs.

  • Their survey found that 24 percent of British health authorities were not providing formal funding for the drugs.
  • Nearly one in five health authorities placed an annual cap on the amount of money they would spend for the drugs.
  • A further three percent restricted patient numbers who could receive them.

The number of British Health Authorities providing acetylcholine inhibitors is up only slightly. David Taylor also carried out a survey before NICE guidelines were published which showed only half of health authorities were paying for Alzheimer's drugs. Although conditions improved following the publication of NICE guidance, the fact some health authorities were still denying funding for these drugs was a cause for concern.

Source: "Health chiefs accused of rationing Alzheimer's drugs,", November 11, 2002.


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