07/10/2010 11:36 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Alzheimer's Drugs Ruling Set To Change Lives

If your family has been affected by Alzheimer's disease you'll be more than aware of the suffering it causes. You may also be aware that one of the main controversies surrounding the condition, in the UK at least, concerns access to drugs that may help slow down the progression of the disease.

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But now things are set to change as the National Institute for Clinical Excellence - the government's health watchdog for England and Wales - has announced a dramatic u-turn concerning Alzheimer's drugs that could change the lives of people who are in the early stages of the disease, as well as their families and carers.

For the last four years doctors have not been allowed to prescribe drugs called Aricept, Reminyl and Exelon on the NHS to patients with mild Alzheimer's symptoms. That's because current NICE guidance says they are only suitable for people with moderate, but not mild, symptoms.

NICE claimed the drugs only reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's in some patients, not all, and there was no clear evidence how long those improvements lasted. In other words, the drugs didn't represent good value for money.

However campaigners have been battling NICE to overturn its decision, and a fresh review into its guidance has today made the watchdog back down. According to NICE, there's new evidence to suggest the drugs are beneficial to people with mild (or early) Alzheimer's.

There are currently more than 450,000 people suffering from Alzheimer's in the UK, and as more people live longer the number looks set to keep rising. Has your family been affected? Will making these three Alzheimer's drugs available on the NHS help you?