Drug ruling disaster for the forgetful

NEW Government guidelines spell disaster for Alzheimer's patients - according to the wife of a sufferer. Jo Lewis has been caring for her husband, former RAF pilot John, since he was diagnosed with the disease four years ago. But two weeks ago the Govern

NEW Government guidelines spell disaster for Alzheimer's patients - according to the wife of a sufferer.Jo Lewis has been caring for her husband, former RAF pilot John, since he was diagnosed with the disease four years ago. But two weeks ago the Government announced that the Aricept tablets 81-year-old John takes to help with his illness will no longer be available on the NHS for new patients.Jo, aged 75, said: "The tablets John takes stops the illness from progressing into the later stages. It has held it back for him."John is forgetful. He can't go out without me and he can't even remember the date."People who can't get the tablets from now on won't be able to cope. I have seen how much people can deteriorate."I want to help sufferers get the tablets on the NHS as much as I can because we both feel it isn't fair."Although John, who has seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren, will still be able to get his tablets for free, anyone who develops the early stages of the illness from now on will have to pay £2.50 a day for their medication. The same applies for two other types of tablets.Last Friday a meeting was held at Poppyfields care home in Ebdon Court in Trenleigh Drive, Worle, to discuss the new guidelines.Weston MP John Penrose went to the meeting and has vowed to take the issue to the House of Commons.Mr Penrose said after the meeting: "I have written to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt to ask questions about the decision that has been made."The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) made the recommendations to the Government to no longer allow the tablets to be available on the NHS."I'm saying it needs to publish the reasons behind its decisions. There is a lot of mistrust because it is not."It is also saying there is not enough effect on the early symptoms of Alzheimer's to justify the cost involved. But it needs to say what would be a suitable cost and then pharmaceutical companies and the NHS may be able to some to some kind of agreement."My final comment in the letter addressed the fact that if you withdraw the drugs the implications regarding more people going into homes is severe as more individuals won't be able to look after themselves.


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