Magazine article Drug Topics

Alzheimer's Drugs Can Work for Severe Disease, Too

Magazine article Drug Topics

Alzheimer's Drugs Can Work for Severe Disease, Too

Article excerpt

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE CHOLINESTERASE INHIBITORS

*Tacrine (Cognex, Parke-Davis)

*Donepezil (Aricept, Eisai Co.)

*Rivastigmine (Exelon, Novartis)

*Galantamine (Reminyl, Janssen Pharmaceutica)

As baby boomers age, the United States could be hit with an epidemic of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The number of people diagnosed with the crippling disorder is expected to triple over the next 30 to 40 years. Is the United States prepared to handle this looming crisis? Not at all, according to the experts who spoke recently at a briefing sponsored by the American Medical Association.

"The boomers are going to be the healthiest cohort of people ever to hit their 70s and 80s," said Steven DeKosky, M.D., director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in Pittsburgh. Ironically, since the risk of AD increases with age, this will correlate with more cases being diagnosed. According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in 10 persons over 65 years of age and nearly half of those over 85 have AD. Approximately four million Americans have AD, and DeKosky cautioned that unless a cure or prevention for AD is found, the number of Americans diagnosed with AD could reach 14 million by the middle of this century (2050).

According to DeKosky, the current pace of research will not keep up with demand. Results from studies now under way are not expected until 2005. He would like to see the launching of several parallel trials of potential therapies as soon as possible. Therapeutic strategies that look promising include methods of diminishing or preventing amyloid protein deposition in the brain. These include enzyme inhibitors (secretase inhibitors) and beta amyloid immunization strategies. These medications are now nearing use in human safety trials.

However, before we begin to worry about the coming epidemic, what about the here and now? Alzheimer's disease is treatable, yet "fewer than half of patients diagnosed with AD are ever offered therapy for their disease," declared Rachelle Doody, M.D., Ph.D., of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston

New evidence-based Alzheimer's disease guidelines, published in the May 8 issue of Neurology, advocate the use of cholinesterase inhibitors as "standard of care" for the treatment of mild to moderate patients.

"We're finding that the treatments we have now do more than we ever thought they would do," continued Doody She explained that the older way of thinking was that the cholinesterase inhibitors would lose their effectiveness rapidly over time as the disease progressed. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.