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Alzheimer's treatment subject to postcode lottery

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New data suggests the treatment patients receive for Alzheimer’s disease is heavily dependent on where they live.

The research, published by IMS Health, shows there is a postcode lottery for key cholinesterase inhibitors including donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine.

The drugs are only used to treat people on the NHS with moderately severe Alzheimer, but this decision by NICE in 2007 has caused outrage among campaigners.

Data shows that the drugs were prescribed the least often in the South West and West Midlands, but patients in the North West and South Central regions had much better access to the drugs.

Although it shows that use of the drugs has increased in the UK by 33% over the last three years, regional variations across England could be as much as 70%.

The figures also show that the uptake of the drugs in the UK is well behind other countries.

But Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said anti-psychotic prescribing remained ‘inappropriately high’ and should only be used to treat severe symptoms or in exceptional circumstances and for short periods.

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