Flemish Alzheimerliga wants to maintain reimbursement of Alzheimer’s disease medication
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    Flemish Alzheimerliga wants to maintain reimbursement of Alzheimer’s disease medication

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    The Flemish Alzheimerliga, that represents patients with Alzheimer’s disease and their families, is against the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance’s idea to stop reimbursing Alzheimer’s medication.

    Anyone that gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease from 1 July 2020 may no longer be reimbursed by their health insurance fund for certain medicines against the disease. The measure is part of the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance’s (RIZIV) budget proposal for 2020.

    Doctors and health insurance funds are arguing in favour of the measure as they feel that the medicines do not work sufficiently. The Flemish Alzheimerliga, which is arguing against the new measure, admits that the medication does not always work and can have some side-effects, but that it is certainly useful to some patients.

    France also stopped reimbursing the medicine in 2018 as they also argued that it did not sufficiently work, said RIZIV, that will have its final vote on the idea next week. However, the Christian Mutuality (CM) has already started the procedure to review the reimbursement of the medicine.

    However, not all doctors agree with that statement. “These medicines combat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, just as an aspirin temporarily reduces fever in the case of flu,” said neurologist at the University Hospital Brussel Sebastiaan Engelborghs, reports VRT NWS. “These drugs are not going to stop or slow down the disease, but for some patients, they can temporarily delay the disease’s progression,” he added.

    The Flemish Alzheimerliga, that represents patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and their families, agrees with Engelborghs. “It has been scientifically proven that medicines help patients who are in the early stages of dementia,” said the Alzheimerliga in a statement. “They can function independently for longer, which means they do not have to be taken to a nursing home immediately,” it added.

    “Some studies even show that patients who take their medication can stay out of a nursing home for two years more than patients who do not,” added Engelborghs. “Reimbursing medication is cheaper than paying for a stay in a nursing home. By stopping that reimbursement, the signal to all patients and their families is that Alzheimer’s is a hopeless disease in which society does not have to invest any longer, which is exactly the signal the Alzheimerliga wants to combat,” he added.

    Medication is now also not prescribed as quickly as it used to be. “It is only prescribed for patients that will really benefit from it and react well to it. If we handle it that way, then the money for the repayment is definitely worth it,” the Liga said.

    The health insurance funds said that they do not want a ‘hard’ stop to the reimbursement, but more of a slower fade away scenario, reports De Morgen.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times