Mental performance in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease can be improved with the drug donepezil, according to a new report from Tulane University School of Medicine. Ben Seltzer, MD, and colleagues conducted a trial of donepezil in 153 patients recently diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease. Two thirds of the patients received 5 mg per day of donepezil, later increased to 10 mg after 6 weeks, with the remaining one third receiving placebo. To measure mental performance, investigators used the cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS), the Mini-Mental State Examination, and the Computerized Memory Battery Test.
The donepezil group showed improvement in the ADAS score after 24 weeks?2.3 points higher than the placebo group. The donepezil group also showed improvement on the other examinations. The drug was shown to be well tolerated, with 16% of donepezil patients withdrawing from treatment, compared with 9% of patients in the placebo group. Dr. Seltzer and colleagues agree that the success of donepezil in this treatment study provides further evidence of its benefits in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.