UK: NICE provisionally recommends Alzheimer’s drugs for early and moderate stage treatment

By Ewan Grist


On 7 October 2010, NICE issued draft guidance, subject to appeal, recommending that Aricept (donepezil, manufactured by Eisai), Reminyl (galantamine, manufactured by Shire) and Exelon (rivastigmine, manufactured by Novartis) be made available to patients with early to moderate stage Alzheimer’s disease. NICE further recommends that Ebixa (memantine) now be made available to patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease.

This latest guidance is in contrast to NICE’s original decisions in 2006 and 2007, which recommended that such drugs only be made available for patients with a moderate form of the disease. NICE reconsidered it position on the basis of new clinical trial evidence that has continued to show the positive effects of these drugs and, in the case of memantine, reduced the uncertainty about its clinical effectiveness.

The draft guidance will now go into consultation, with final guidance expected in early 2011. The closing date for consultation comments is 28 October 2010 and the consultation documents are available at