About 20 % of Alzheimer´s patients have severe dementia. As their health deteriorates they become less able to communicate, less mobile, and increasingly reliant on nursing care. Donepezil is used to treat mild-to-moderate Alzheimer´s disease but its effectiveness in severe dementia has not been assessed until now.
In their trial professor Bengt Winblad and colleagues recruited Alzheimer´s patients over 50 years of age from 50 nursing homes in Sweden. They assigned 95 patients to donepezil and 99 to placebo for 6 months. The investigators found that those on donepezil had improved cognition and ability to carry out daily activities when compared with those on placebo.
More patients on the active drug hade side effects than those in the placebo group, but these were usually transient and mild to moderate in severity.
“Donepezil slows, and can reverse some aspects of deterioration of cognition and function in individuals with severe Ahlzheimer´s who live in nursing homes”, professor Winblad comments.
Publication: “Donepezil in patients with Alzheimer´s disease: double-blind, parallel group, placebo controlled study”, The Lancet, online edition 23 March 2006, Bengt Winblad, Lena Kilander, Sture Eriksson, Lennart Minthon, Stellan Båtsman, Anna-Lena Watterholm, Catarina Jansson-Blixt, Anders Haglund et al.
Acknowledgement: The study was founded by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Sollentuna, Sweden.