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Groups Issue New Dementia Drug Guidelines
Date:3/4/2008

Review finds little difference in effectiveness of 5 drugs currently available

TUESDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- There's no proof that any one of the five drugs available in the United States to treat dementia is better than the others, says an American College of Physicians (ACP) and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) committee that just issued a new guideline on drug treatment of dementia.

The committee reviewed published studies for outcomes such as cognition, global function, behavior/mood, and quality of life/activities of daily living. But the committee said it found only limited high-quality scientific evidence about the effectiveness of the drugs and therefore developed the following cautious recommendations:

  • The decision to use approved drugs for dementia should be based on an individualized patient assessment.
  • The choice of drugs should be based on tolerability, adverse effect profile, ease of use, and cost.
  • There's an urgent need for more clinical research to improve knowledge about the clinical effectiveness of drugs treatment for dementia.

The committee recommended the following kinds of research:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of drug therapy for dementia and assess whether treatments affect key outcomes, such as institutionalization.
  • Evaluate the appropriate duration of therapy.
  • Head-to-head testing of drugs.
  • Test drugs in combination therapy.

The guideline are published in the March 4 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Currently, there are five FDA-approved drugs for treatment of dementia. These include four acetylcholinesterase inhibitors -- donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Razadyne, Reminyl, Nivalin), rivastigmine (Exelon), and tacrine -- and one neuropeptide-modifying agent -- memantine (Mamenda).

While these drugs may improve symptoms or slow diseas
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