UK lags behind European neighbours in treating Alzheimer patients

June 8, 2004

Brussels, 07 Jun 2004

A recent study carried out by the company Taylor Nelson Sofres has found that the UK is trailing behind other European countries in providing drug therapy to Alzheimer patients.

The study shows that just 21 per cent of UK citizens eligible for drug-therapy are actually being treated. This compares poorly with France, which treats 77 per cent of its Alzheimer patients. Similarly, 73 per cent of patients in Italy and 56 per cent in Spain are being treating with the anti-dementia drugs known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.

The survey, which was published in the Journal of International Medical Research, studied 741 carers of patients with Alzheimer's disease in the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Australia.

It also discovered that some people in the UK have to wait a long time before they can be seen for treatment.

This is particularly unfortunate as 'drugs used to slow the progress of symptoms of the illness are particularly effective in the early stages. It is therefore important that treatment is started as soon as possible after diagnosis,' explained Dr David Wilkinson from Moorgreen hospital in Southampton.

The carers interviewed as part of the survey called for better public education on how to recognise symptoms.

It is estimated there are more than 750,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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