NICE amends guidance on Alzheimer's drugs

Following the outcome of a judicial review in August 2007, NICE has published an amended version of its appraisal of Alzheimer's disease treatments.

NICE was asked to clarify the use of the treatment eligibility assessment tool – the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) – in patients with learning disabilities and those whose first language is not English.

The amendments state that when using the MMSE to diagnose moderate Alzheimer’s disease, healthcare professionals should ensure that patients from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds, and/or those with disabilities have equal access to treatment.

In some cases, healthcare professionals should not rely on the MMSE test or not rely on it alone if this means that it will not fairly reflect the severity of the disease. This may be the case when assessing patients who have:

  • Learning disabilities or other disabilities such as deafness or blindness.
  • Difficulty speaking (for example, after a stroke) or other difficulties with communicating.
  • Lack of fluent competency in a language in which the MMSE test can be given.

For these patients, a different method to judge whether the patient has moderate Alzheimer’s disease should be used.

The full guideline is available at

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