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More prolonged use of dementia drug could prove to be beneficial

Withdrawal of the drug donepezil in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease doubles their risk of moving to a nursing home within a year, say University College London researchers.

Picture credit: iStock

Between February 2008 and March 2010, they studied 295 people with moderate to severe Alzheimers disease from 15 memory care centres in England and Scotland.

All the study participants had been prescribed donepezil a drug commonly used to treat people with Alzheimers disease continuously for at least three months. They were then randomly selected to either continue donepezil or withdraw from the drug by receiving a placebo. These two groups were then each divided to test the effect of receiving another dementia drug memantine or a placebo.

The researchers found that taking memantine had no effect on the risk of moving to a nursing home, but withdrawing donepezil doubled the risk within a year.

Donepezil is typically withdrawn in the later stages of Alzheimers disease because of a lack of perceived benefit by clinicians. But Kathryn Adcock, head of neurosciences

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Picture credit: iStock

Between February 2008 and March 2010, they studied 295 people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease from 15 memory care centres in England and Scotland.

All the study participants had been prescribed donepezil – a drug commonly used to treat people with Alzheimer’s disease – continuously for at least three months. They were then randomly selected to either continue donepezil or withdraw from the drug by receiving a placebo. These two groups were then each divided to test the effect of receiving another dementia drug – memantine – or a placebo.

The researchers found that taking memantine had no effect on the risk of moving to a nursing home, but withdrawing donepezil doubled the risk within a year.

Donepezil is typically withdrawn in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease because of a lack of perceived benefit by clinicians. But Kathryn Adcock, head of neurosciences and mental health at the Medical Research Council, which funded the study, said the results provide ‘strong evidence that donepezil can benefit people in the more severe stages of Alzheimer’s disease for longer than was expected’.

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