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Court Upholds NHS Limits on Dementia Drugs (Japan)

This article was originally published in PharmAsia News

Executive Summary

Japanese drugmaker Eisai Co. Ltd. Friday said it had partly won its legal case against the U.K. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE, over the prescription of drugs used to treat Alzheimer's disease. Eisai had accused NICE of acting "irrationally and unlawfully" in recommending that the drugs should not be funded on the NHS for people with early-stage symptoms. They also argued that NICE's decision was "procedurally flawed." Although the case was defeated on five out of six counts, the campaigners were successful on one count - that tests to assess Alzheimer's were "discriminatory" against people who speak English as a second language or those with learning disabilities. However, the key claim of the campaigners - that patients should be given NHS Alzheimer's treatment at an earlier stage in the illness - was defeated. Last year, NICE recommended that three drugs, donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine, not be prescribed for patients with early stage Alzheimer's, claiming that the treatment was not effective for people with mild Alzheimer's and was not cost effective. It recommended the drugs for patients with moderate-stage Alzheimer's. Speaking in court Friday, David Pannick QC, appearing for Eisai, told the judge that the consequence of removing funding for those with mild Alzheimer's disease "is that the opportunity is lost for delaying the onward march of this appalling disease and maintaining a relatively good quality of life for patients for as long as possible." He said changes made to national guidance by NICE last year meant that annually 96,600 patients with mild Alzheimer's would be refused treatment whereas, under previous guidance, they would not have been. (Click here for more

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