“The good news is that Alzheimer’s is now a treatable disease. That’s why it’s so important that you bring your loved one in for a diagnosis – we can help.”
This was the main message at a seminar for caregivers from a doctor who directs a university-based Alzheimer’s center. I went to the seminar last year looking for information to help Dad, and to hear this expert’s opinion on the latest research.
In his presentation, he used graphics I’d seen on the Aricept web site. They showed the results of a study where patients who took Aricept for longer periods stayed at home nearly two years more than those who took it for less time. The Aricept web site notes that “…results may be caused by other factors.”
Neither the doctor nor the web site said where this data came from, but I think it is from an article published in 2003 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The seminar speaker didn’t mention another recent study, called AD2000 in which researchers said “No significant benefits were seen with donepezil compared with placebo in institutionalization.”
Three of the five sponsors for this seminar were pharmaceutical companies that manufacture or market the medications discussed. I’m sure that would have made it awkward for the speaker to mention that the results of recent studies have been mixed, and that the benefits of these drugs are hotly debated in the medical community. But patients and their caregivers deserve to know.