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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 January, 2004, 12:04 GMT
Alzheimer's patients 'face lottery'
Human brain
Three main anti-Alzheimer's drugs were studied
Two former Welsh health authorities are among the worst in the UK for investing in treatment which could slow down the condition of Alzheimer's, a study has suggested.

According to a firm which makes the anti-dementia drugs, the former Bro Taf and Iechyd Morgannwg Health Authorities, which cover Cardiff and Swansea, spend less on the drugs than anywhere else.

Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer claims that although spending has increased over the past five years, patients UK-wide face a postcode lottery.

Mary Miller from Cardiff, has to pay for drugs to treat her Alzheimer's, even though her two sisters, who also suffer from the disease but live in different areas, are treated on the NHS.

Her daughter Carolyn Morris said she had to help her mother with the cost of the drugs which could "vary in price."

" I'm extremely angry," she said.

"My mother fought during the war, yet when she is in need, nobody is there to help her.

"If I wasn't here for her, I don't know what would happen."


The figures do seem to be at odds with our information
Spokeswoman, National Public Health Service for Wales
The Eastern health board in Northern Ireland was found to spend the most on the drugs - but the south Wales counties, along with parts of the Midlands, spend the least amount of money according to the research.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued guidance in January 2001 which said anti-dementia drugs were clinically and cost effective.

And the Pfizer team found that overall spending on the drugs had increased sharply since 1991.

However, they also found "significant geographical variation" in their uptake.

They looked at the money spent on the three main anti-Alzheimer's drugs - donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine - in 52 strategic health authorities and boards in the UK.

In response to the research, Swansea Local Health Board said it had continued to support the development of specialist memory clinics to ensure patients with Alzheimer's were assessed, treated and monitored according to the criteria within the guidance.

A spokeswoman for the National Public Health Service for Wales, speaking on behalf of Cardiff Health Board, commented:

"We have not seen this report in detail so cannot confirm the accuracy of its data.

"However the figures do seem to be at odds with our information which shows a much greater spend on Alzheimer's drugs in the Bro Taf area."

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