Two drug companies have threatened to take the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to judicial review.

Eisai Limited, the licence holder for Aricept, and Pfizer Limited, its 'co-promotion partner', claim the process that led NICE to refuse to endorse the drug's use for NHS patients with mild Alzheimer's disease was 'unfair and irrational'.

NICE says it will 'act appropriately' in any court proceedings, but is still planning to publish its recommendations on the use of Alzheimer's drugs next week, alongside guidelines for caring for people with dementia.

The Alzheimer's Society is co-ordinating protests at counties across England today to demand greater flexibility for doctors over the treatments they use.