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Govt denies Alzheimers sufferers treatment

Dr Lynda Scott
National Spokesperson for Health and Senior Citizens

15 March 2004

Govt denies Alzheimers sufferers treatment

Pharmac's inability to fund medication for the treatment of Alzheimers Disease is a further blow for sufferers of the disease and their families who care for them, says Dr Lynda Scott, National's Spokesperson for Health and Senior Citizens.

"The Labour Government did not increase Pharmac's budget for the 3 years to 2003 and older New Zealanders are paying the price.

Pharmac has today announced that it will not subsidise medications that slow the onset of dementia and reduce the need for care in Alzheimers sufferers. Australians have access to such subsidised medication.

"Wider use of the drugs could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in residential care costs. Dementia care costs around $33,000 per year, compared with $2500 - $3000 a year for these drugs," says Dr Scott.

"As a geriatrician, I have seen the beneficial effects for some Alzheimers sufferers who trial and respond positively to this medication, and subsequently have their Alzheimers-associated costs greatly reduced, and it is simply unacceptable that New Zealanders continue to be denied access.

"I agree with Dr Phil Wood - virtually every other Western country offers some support in terms of the use of these medications," says Dr Scott.

Ends

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