Alzheimer's disease is a condition that affects the
elderly resulting in memory loss. It progresses gradually from a mild to a more
severe condition, ultimately making the patient extremely dependent on a
Drugs are currently available that help to improve
symptoms in people with Alzheimer's disease, though they cannot stop the
progression of the disease. One such
drug is donepezil, which is beneficial in mild-to-moderate cases.
memantine is also used to treat Alzheimer's disease
, though it acts via a
different mechanism as donepezil. It is
usually prescribed for the moderate-to-severe stages.
recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine evaluated the benefit
of donepezil and memantine in people suffering from moderate-to-severe
. The study was conducted in 295 patients who had received donepezil
for at least 3 months. In the study, the patients were prescribed donepezil,
memantine, both the drugs, or neither for a duration of 52 weeks.
continued to take donepezil when the Alzheimer's disease worsened did better
than those who discontinued donepezil
. Patients on donepezil showed significantly less
decline in memory and retained the ability to carry out simple daily tasks and
Patients who received memantine also did better than
those who did not receive memantine, but the benefit was smaller as compared to
that of donepezil.
However, combining the two drugs did not provide any
The study thus
concluded that donepezil continues to provide its benefits in moderate or
severe Alzheimer's disease
. Neither drug could halt the progression of the disease. More research
is required regarding the long-term benefits and possible adverse effects of
using donepezil over prolonged durations.
1. Donepezil and Memantine for Moderate-to-Severe Alzheimer's Disease;
Robert Howard et al; N Engl J Med 2012; 366:893-903.