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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Aricept® Donepezil Can Help Many More People

Kinda what Aricept is doing in your brain.
Donepezil (brand named Aricept®) is widely used to treat mild Alzheimer's. Researchers demonstrated it can also offer significant benefits in moderate and severe dementia.

Research has found that the dementia drug donepezil, already widely used to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer's Disease (AD), also helps in moderate to severe patients and by extending treatment to this group could help treat twice as many sufferers worldwide. Encouragingly, the drug has greater positive benefits for patients more severely affected than for those in the earlier stages of dementia.    

750,000 people in the UK and 18 million worldwide suffer from AD.  The multi-centre study, led by Professor Robert Howard at the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) and funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Alzheimer's Society, is the first trial to demonstrate the value of continued drug intervention for those patients with moderate to severe AD who have deteriorated beyond the point where donepezil is currently recommended.

The study, published today, in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at two drugs: donepezil and memantine. Donepezil is the most commonly prescribed of the dementia drugs and is recommended for patients at the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors are currently advised to stop prescribing donezepil when the disease progresses to become moderate to severe and until now there has been no clear evidence that continuing treatment is of benefit to patients.

Over the course of the trial, patients who continued to take donepezil showed considerably less decline in cognition (memory, orientation, language function, etc) and function (retained ability to carry out simple daily tasks and self-care) than those taking a placebo drug. The benefits seen with continued treatment were clinically important and were greater than those previously seen in patients with less severe AD. Whilst the effect was slightly smaller, starting memantine treatment also resulted in significantly better cognitive and functional abilities compared with those taking a placebo.

Professor Robert Howard, lead author from Institute of Psychiatry at King’s says: 'As patients progress to more severe forms of Alzheimer’s disease, clinicians are faced with a difficult decision as to whether to continue or not with dementia drugs and, until now, there has been little evidence to guide that decision. For the first time, we have robust and compelling evidence that treatment with these drugs can continue to help patients at the later, more severe stages of the disease.

'We observed that patients who continued taking donepezil were better able to remember, understand, communicate and perform daily tasks for at least a year longer than those who stopped taking the drugs. These improvements were noticeable to patients, their caregivers and doctors. Both donepezil and memantine will soon be off patent and available in very cheap generic preparations. These findings will greatly increase the numbers of patients in the developed and developing world that we are able to treat.'

Professor Nick Fox, MRC Senior Clinical Fellow at the Institute of Neurology, University College London, says: 'The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is reaching critical levels.  It has never been more important to invest in research which will enable doctors to make informed decisions based on the best evidence possible when deciding what treatments to give patients. The MRC has an ongoing commitment to the development of effective, safe treatments that will improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their care givers.'

Professor Clive Ballard, Director of Research at Alzheimer's Society, says: 'Thanks to the Alzheimer’s drug donepezil, tens of thousands of people in the early to moderate stages of the condition are able to recognise their family for longer, play with their grandchildren and make vital plans for the future. This major new trial now shows that there could also be significant benefits on continuing the treatment into the later stages too. There are 750,000 people with dementia in the UK yet currently prescription levels of Alzheimer’s drugs are still low. If this is to change we have to improve the shocking diagnosis rates and ensure everyone is given the opportunity to try treatments.'

YES! There are side-effects! For me most of the side effects went away after a few months, but I still occasionally get leg cramps, and some gastric-intestinal distress. Though I would prefer no side-effects at all I have decided the trade-off is worth it if I can slow the progression. Every case of Frontotemporal Degeneration is different. Some days are better than others.

Comments are welcome.


  1. I started 2 todays ago. the first night, I had the weirdest dream. but at least I had a dream. cant
    remember the last time that happened. last night, tossed and turned all night. scared as hell. 43 and taking a pill for dementia.

  2. when do the side effects usually come on and how long do they last? my stomache ones just started last night out of the blue watching tv. embarrasing. didnt make it. been on it for a week. is this "normal" whatver that means anymore

  3. How are you doing Lee
    Haven't seen any new post in a while, just wondering if you Think I have had several down hill time lately, but ok.

    Have you checked out the Face Book page Howard Glick started, it has really been helpful to chat with other FTD'ers.....you should join us.

    Well what have you been up to lately and are you ok?

    Terry Berry

  4. Correction
    Haven't seen any new post in while just wondering if you are ok
    Think I have............

  5. Donepezil is in a class of medications called cholinesterase inhibitors. It improves mental function such as attention, memory, social interaction, language abilities, and ability to perform activities of daily living by increasing the amount of a certain naturally occurring substance in the brain.it may increase the ability to remember.