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Author Terry Pratchett has spoken out against the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) decision that limits recipients of Aricept – a cheap and useful drug used to slow progress of Alzheimer’s – to people in the later stages of the disease, not at early stages.

“My wife noticed changes in me after two months on it,” said Pratchett, who was diagnosed with the condition late last year. Feeling lucky that it was discovered early and having seen the improvements from using Aricept, he is frustrated with NICE’s ruling. “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.”

At a cost of £2.50 per day, the ruling is disappointing to those who cannot afford to pay for the drug privately as they will no longer receive its benefits. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of senile dementia, where a slow loss of nerve cells and nerve contacts impair memory ability and orientation. Mental faculties deteriorate continually causing patients to require help with everyday tasks, lose their personality and fail to recognize even close relatives.

“Alzheimer’s is a particularly unpleasant disease,” said Pratchett in a Contactmusic report. “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. It scares people and at 04:00 in the morning it scares me, and Aricept is well worth having for the relief that it brings.”

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