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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 10:01 GMT
Drug made a phenomenal difference
Hands
NHS advisers are proposing restricting access to three key drugs
Controversial draft guidelines on drugs for Alzheimer's disease have been relaxed by NHS advisers NICE.

But use of the treatments - donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine - will be reserved for patients who reach a moderate stage of the condition.

The husband of a woman with the degenerative brain condition speaks about the difference one of the drugs made.

Beryl Richardson was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1999.

Within two years even the simplest tasks were becoming difficult.

She could only watch television for 10 minutes at a stretch and her husband, Mervyn, could not take her out of their home town of Poole in Dorset because it was too distressing.

But from March 2002 she was put on galantamine, and almost straight-away the difference was noticeable.

Mr Richardson, 71, said: "It made a phenomenal difference. Three months after she was prescribed it we were going on trips to London and she could watch semi-violent films like James Bond or medium to heavy opera and she was very very happy."

Don't forget with Alzheimer's disease there are two people who are suffering - the suffer themselves, of course, and the hard-pushed carer
Mervyn Richardson, husband of Alzheimer's patient

But he said it was not straightforward getting the drug for his wife, who is now 76 and lives in a home.

"It has been a miraculous treatment for Beryl. But I had to fight the then Dorset Health Authority tooth and nail for it, it was worth it though.

"I think in the end they had had enough of me and let her have it."

And Mr Richardson said he could not understand why NICE were now planning to restrict the drug to those who have gone past the early stages of the disease.

"Now they have thrown out the very mild situations, we have to ask why?

"There is no justification because like Beryl in the year 2000 her ability decreased very rapidly and, with the massive delays to get an assessment, this is not on.

"I just do not understand it - the earlier people start on the treatment the better."

And he added: "Don't forget with Alzheimer's disease there are two people who are suffering - the suffer themselves, of course, and the hard-pushed carer."


SEE ALSO:
Berries 'help prevent dementia'
20 Jan 06 |  Health
How singing unlocks the brain
20 Nov 05 |  Health


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