Wednesday, October 11, 2006

United Kingdom Upsets People, Charities AND Drug Companies

Introductory Note:
Most of the healthcare provided in the United Kingdom is publicly-funded; it is organized and operated by the National Health Service (NHS). At a very basic and probably over-simple level, think of the NHS as you would a private insurance company in the United States, only the NHS is a government institution, overseen by the Department of Health. For more information about the NHS, see Wikipedia.

Patients in the UK suffering from Alzheimer's Disease are upset after the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) ruled that some effective treatments will not be available to them. NICE describes itself as "the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health."

The latest controversy started after NICE announced "that donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine should only be considered as options in the treatment of people with moderate Alzheimer'’s disease" and that one other drug, memantine, should only be used in clinical studies. These drugs are approved for use in the United States, and are still suitable for use in the UK, only now patients will have to pay for them with their own money.

According to John-Paul Ford Rojas and Jane Kirby the patients are not the only peeved entitites, as "[h]ealth professionals and charities are considering asking for a judicial review of what they claim is a flawed ruling."

Rojas and Kirby added "drug manufacturers were also considering asking for a judicial review."


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