The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) released guidance on anti-cholinesterase drugs in June 2009, recommending them for NHS patients with moderate Alzheimer’s disease only.
This is the same conclusion the watchdog reached in 2005, but NICE admitted that there had been errors in the initial economic model used to determine the cost-effectiveness of the drugs.
The guidance applies to Aricept (donezepil), marketed by Eisai and Pfizer, Novartis’ Exelon (rivastigmine) and Shire’s Reminyl (galantamine).
Eisai and Pfizer fought the original decision, arguing that the treatment should also be available to patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease. However, they will not appeal the latest guidance.
Further reading - An in-depth analysis of the UK pharmaceutical market, including some background information about NICE, is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: United Kingdom (published March 2009)