The guidance extends previous guidelines to allow the use of donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine in the treatment of mild Alzheimer’s disease. Previously, these drugs could only be used at the moderate stage of the disease.
The new guidelines also recommend the use of memantine for severe disease and for some patients with moderate disease. This follows the results of clinical trials proving the drug to be clinically effective.
Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, commented: ‘Since 2007 clinical trials have continued to show the positive effects of these drugs and, in the case of memantine, have reduced the uncertainty about its clinical effectiveness.’
A transdermal patch formulation of rivastigmine has also been recommended for use in the updated NICE guidelines. The patch is designed to reduce the side-effects associated with oral rivastigmine and to reduce the pill burden for patients.
Andrew Chidgey, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Society, welcomed the new advice as a ‘victory for people with Alzheimer’s and their carers, many of whom have been campaigning for this day for years’. ‘These drugs don’t work for everyone, but for some people they can radically improve their quality of life,’ he said.