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BBC Scotland's Aileen Clarke
"Hope for some sufferers has come in the form of a new drug, but Scots may still miss out"
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Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK
Alzheimer's patients 'miss out' on drugs
Alzheimer's patients
Thousands suffer from the disease in Scotland
Many Alzheimer's sufferers in Scotland are missing out on vital treatment because of where they live, according to a charity.

Alzheimer's Scotland said people were being seriously disadvantaged by "postcode prescribing".

Treatments were not getting through to many of the 60,000 Scots who have been hit by the disease.

There are two drugs which help treat Alzheimer's and, by the end of the week, a third will be being distributed by hospital dispensaries.

Access to these medicines, which can in some cases stabilise and improve the quality of life, depends on which health board has budgeted for them.

'Equal access'

Alzheimer's Scotland believes the system must end and its case is supported by a UK study which puts the cost of caring for people with the disease at up to 14bn a year.

The Scottish Executive insisted it was taking steps to make sure everyone has equal access to treatment and drugs.

The charity spoke out on Thursday, which is World Alzheimer's Day, and also as Dundee University embarks on a study to trace the development of Alzheimer's and to determine if stress can be a factor.

Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disease, which attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking and behaviour.

People afflicted with Alzheimer's often suffer disturbances in their daily rhythm, which affects body functions such as sleep cycles, temperature, alertness and hormone production.

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See also:

21 Sep 00 | Health
14bn bill for Alzheimer's
29 Jul 98 | Health
Bright idea for Alzheimer's
05 Jun 98 | Health
Scientists find dementia gene
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