HL Deb 11 February 1998 vol 585 cc188-9WA
Lord Morris of Manchester

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether in pursuance of their policy, stated in the recent white paper The New NHS, aimed at creating a NHS based on need rather than ability to pay, they will ensure that equity will be introduced in the prescription of the Alzheimer's disease drug donepezil hydrochloride (Aricept), which is currently being denied to patients in over half the health authority areas in the United Kingdom; and when guidelines for the prescription of Aricept will be published; and [HL517]

How many people across the United Kingdom are currently being prescribed donepezil hydrochloride (Aricept) through the NHS and what is the current cost to the NHS; and [HL518]

Which health authorities in the United Kingdom are currently allowing the prescription of donepezil hydrochloride (Aricept) for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease; and [HL519]

Whether they have sought advice regarding the prescription of donepezil hydrochloride (Aricept); if so from whom; whether the advice has been acted upon; and what representations they have received from the Alzheimer's Disease Society and others on this matter. [HL522]

Baroness Jay of Paddington:

The Standing Medical Advisory Committee is currently considering the benefits of the drug Aricept and is preparing guidance for clinicians in the National Health Service. They endorsed an interim statement from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Health authorities and clinicians already have access to a number of sources of information on Aricept, on which they can make decisions about the use of this drug.

Information on the number of patients currently receiving Aricept is not available since data cover only the number of prescriptions dispensed in community pharmacies. The latest data show a cost of £240,000 to the NHS in England for thoseprescriptions dispensed since the drug was licensed, from April to September 1997. Information on all those health authorities which currently allow prescription of the drug is not available. The NHS Executive has received a number of representations regarding the availability of donepezil, including some from the Alzheimer's Disease Society.