27 February 2007

We're All Paying For NICE's False Economy

When the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recently ruled that patients newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's could not be prescribed donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Reminyl), or rivastigmine (Exelon) until their condition had progressed to its moderate stages, the chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, Neil Hunt, said that the NICE system overlooked the benefits that these treatments offered carers as well as patients. Comparing the cost of these drugs – just £2.50 per day for each patient – with the average bill revealed in today's report by the Alzheimer’s Society for caring for one person with late-onset dementia – £25,472 per year – it seems that NICE also overlooked the benefits to society at large.

The extent of the problem

  • There are currently 700,000 people with dementia in the UK
  • Two thirds of people with dementia are women
  • One in 20 people over 65, one in five over 80, and one in three over 95 has a form of dementia - around two thirds of those have Alzheimer's disease
  • By 2051, dementia is expected to affect the lives of around one in three people, either as a sufferer, a carer, or a relative
The social cost
  • Two thirds of people with dementia live in the community, either alone or with friends or relatives
  • 64% of people living in care homes have a form of dementia
  • The financial cost of dementia to the UK is over £17 billion a year
  • Family carers of people with dementia save the UK over £6 billion a year
Saving lives
  • 60,000 deaths a year are directly attributable to dementia.
  • Delaying the onset of dementia by 5 years would reduce this number by 30,000 a year


Rebecca said...

I recognise that there are a whole host of ethical questions surrounding the allocation of healthcare resources, but there is a fundamental inequality identified by the report when it observes, "Other long-term medical conditions receive far more support from the state."