Byline: JULIE WHELDON
Thousands of people with schizophrenia are being denied the choice of modern drugs, despite guidance from the medicines watchdog to end rationing, it has been claimed.
In June this year the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) recommended that people newly diagnosed with schizophrenia should be offered 'atypical' anti-psychotic drugs.
It also said those who had treatment-resistant schizophrenia should be given the specialist medicine clozapine at the earliest opportunity.
In all cases, Nice said the choice of medicine should be made jointly by the individual and clinician.
The medicines watchdog gave health organisations three months in which to comply with this guidance.
However a survey released by the charity 'Rethink Severe Mental Illness' suggested many people are still being denied the choice of the new types of medicines.
On present trends it warned that it will be October 2005 before the Nice decision is fully implemented.
The survey found 97 per cent of Primary Care Trusts who took part in the poll knew of the Nice ruling, but just 80 per cent had implemented it, and 78 per cent said they were experiencing financial pressure from the decision.
Some 55 per cent of PCTs surveyed said they had increased choice and 47 per cent of service users and carers said they now felt more involved.
Paul Farmer, director of public affairs for Rethink, said: "People with severe mental illness are still being treated like second class citizens despite the Nice ruling that was supposed to ensure they were no longer forced to take cheap, unsuitable medicines. …