A dementia drug keeps half of patients out of nursing homes, a UCL published research has found. 295 people suffering from moderate to severe forms of Alzheimer’s disease were monitored under the effects of the drug donepezil, which is usually used until the patient is in the latter stages of the disease, when it has shown to have little effect.
The drug was randomly discontinued for some of the trial patients after being substituted either with a second test drug called Memantine, or with a placebo, in order to verify the effects of the donepezil.
The trial showed that patients taken off the donepezil faced a fifty percent higher risk of having to be put in a nursing home within a year after discontinuing the treatment. Memantine recipients, on the other hand, suffered no change in this respect.
The research conducted at UCL has also shown in the past that even patients with moderate to severe forms of dementia can somewhat benefit from better cognitive function if they continue their treatment with the drug.
Researchers and other specialists are now confident in the drug’s ability to delay patient’s needs for institutionalized care and are underlining the importance of funding research into such drugs in order to further medical field advances in this domain, despite the lack of a permanent cure for Alzheimer’s disease at present.
Treatments such as donepezil can help better support people with dementia to lead independent lives for a longer period of time and extend the time they are able to spend in their own homes, with their loved ones.
New evidence also suggests that this treatment can help people in more severe stages of the disease than it was originally thought, and for a longer period of time than scientists initially expected to find.
Professionals like head of neurosciences and mental health at the Medical Research Council, Dr. Kathryn Adcock also believe, keeping in mind the encouraging results of the study, that the search for and development of a cure for dementia should continue with an emphasis on making the absolute most of the drugs that are available as forms of symptomatic treatment.
Scientists also urge clinicians to consider the implication that their research has and appropriately adjust their prescribing patterns. The new results proving that the drug is also effective in the latter stages of the disease could be crucial to the development of many patients as it has been proven that a longer use of the drug can delay the need for patient’s assisted living.