Author attacks Alzheimer's ban

Terry Pratchett, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, has condemned the NHS for failing to provide a drug, Aricept, that can dramatically improve symptoms.

Pratchett, 60, known for his Discworld novels, questioned why the anti-impotence drug Viagra was available on prescription when an effective Alzheimer's drug was not.

"Alzheimer's is a particularly unpleasant disease. I don't know anyone who's got better from Alzheimer's. It strips our humanity a bit at a time until you end up a vegetable," said Pratchett, who features in a Panorama programme tonight about regional healthcare variations.

"Aricept can slow the disease's progress and costs just £2.50 a day. But there are 400,000 Alzheimer's sufferers in the UK so Aricept has been ruled out for NHS use in the mild stages except in Scotland.

"I have no trouble paying, but some people can't. My wife and PA noticed changes in me after two months on it. I used to fumble with buttons and seat belts. Now I get dressed normally and seat belts slide in first time. Mentally, it's the difference between a sunny day and an overcast day."

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence made the decision on Aricept, but a different body decides in Scotland and it is available there.

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