Study of Alzheimer’s Patients Taking Aricept Shows Significant Benefits

The benefits of the prescription drug Aricept® may extend into the more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease than previously investigated. This was according to the August 28, 2001 edition of Neurology.

The current study found that Aricept conferred significant benefits vs. placebo in patient function, cognition, behavior, and activities of daily living, with very good tolerability. The Preservation of Function study found that one year of Aricept treatment reduced the risk of functional decline; the Nordic study demonstrated that the drug maintained cognition, activities of daily living (ADLs), and global function for one year.

“These three research articles in Neurology represent an important convergence of information,” said Howard Feldman, MD, UBC Hospital, Clinic for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, Vancouver, British Columbia. “Alzheimer’s research holds promise for the future, but doctors who care for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers should understand the benefits Aricept treatment offers today and may continue to offer.”

In this study, 290 patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease were randomized to receive either Aricept, 5 mg/day for the first 28 days and 10 mg/day thereafter, based on the clinicians’ judgment or placebo. Baseline demographics were similar between the drug and placebo groups. The study enrolled patients residing in the community or in assisted living settings but not patients requiring total nursing care. Patients receiving Aricept showed benefits on the CIBIC-plus, compared with those taking placebo. All other secondary measures showed significant differences between the groups in favor of the prescription drug.

“We already know that treatment with Aricept for people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease slows progression of symptoms such as cognition and loss of function, and may be associated with a delay in nursing home placement, allowing loved ones to stay at home longer,” Dr. Feldman added. “The findings published today further reinforce the significance of Aricept as an important choice to preserve patients’ independence longer while they live with the disease.”

Consistent benefits were found for Aricept® across the full range of measures of patient outcomes — function, cognition, behavior, and activities of daily living — in this 24-week, double-blind placebo-controlled trial:

The patients that received Aricept remained stable throughout the study on measures of function, while placebo-treated patients showed functional decline. The treated group showed fewer declines on average compared with placebo-treated patients on both instrumental and basic activities of daily living. The treated group also showed statistically significant overall improvement vs. placebo in behavioral disturbances associated with Alzheimer’s; a sub-analysis of behavioral domains showed statistically significant benefits in apathy, depression, and anxiety.

These data suggest that the benefits of Aricept® (donepezil hydrochloride), which is indicated for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, may extend into the more advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease than those previously investigated, with very good tolerability. Completion rates for the study were 84% in the Aricept group and 86% in placebo-treated patients. The most common reason for discontinuation was adverse events, the majority of which were rated mild in severity.

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