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Poorer dementia patients in England 'less likely to get key drugs'

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Poorer dementia patients in England are less likely to be prescribed the drugs they need, according to new research.  Experts from University College London found stark differences in the number of patients given access to the key drugs cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine.  These are the only drugs recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) for Alzheimer's disease.  Nice recommends cholinesterase inhibitors for mild to moderate disease and memantine for severe Alzheimer's and some moderate cases.  Its guidance covers England but is also generally followed in Wales. In Scotland, the NHS allows doctors to follow Nice or less restrictive guidelines from the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (Sign), which allow the drugs for any stage of dementia.   In a new analysis of 77,045 patients, experts found that the least deprived patients in England were 27% more likely to be given anti-dementia drugs than the most deprived.  Prescribing rates in England were consistently lower in more deprived patients compared with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, where prescribing was not related to deprivation. The report’s authors concluded: "Four years after the English National Dementia Strategy, there is no evidence that the strategy's key objective of reducing treatment inequalities is being achieved.”

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