On the Agenda - Alzheimer's hits headlines again

- In a nutshell

First it was reported that a US study has found blood pressure drugs can dramatically cut the risk of Alzheimer's. The angiotensin receptor blockers prevent the disease occurring and slow its progression. Then came the news that a new drug is being developed that can halt the progress of the disease and is twice as effective as current treatments.

- Wasn't Alzheimer's in the press again recently?

Yes. In May, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) was criticised for its drug approval process in relation to Alzheimer's drug Aricept. NICE had refused to allow pharma firms Eisai and Pfizer full access to a computer model used to assess the cost-effectiveness of Alzheimer's drug Aricept. The Court of Appeal branded the process 'not transparent enough' and ruled that the Government's value-for-money watchdog had acted unfairly.

- How big a problem is Alzheimer's in the UK?

According to the Alzheimer's Society, it is the most common form of dementia, affecting about 417,000 people in the UK. This could soar to 1.7 million over the next two decades. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's. However, some drug treatments are available that can reduce the symptoms or slow down the disease's progression in some people.

- Media coverage

The first story was picked up by the Daily Mail, which ran a down-page article on page nine. The second story caused a bigger splash, with the front page of the Daily Mail and the top slot on the BBC's main news bulletin.

7% people aged over 65 in the UK who have dementia.

Photo: Image Source

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