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3-Year Study of Donepezil Therapy in Alzheimer’s Disease: Effects of Early and Continuous TherapyWinblad B.a · Wimo A.b · Engedal K.c · Soininen H.d · Verhey F.e · Waldemar G.f · Wetterholm A.-L.g · Haglund A.g · Zhang R.h · Schindler R.h
aKarolinska University Hospital Huddinge, Stockholm, and bNeurotec, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; cDepartment of Geriatric Medicine, Ullevaal University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; dDepartment of Neurology, University and University Hospital of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland; eDepartment of Psychiatry, Institute of Brain and Behaviour, Maastricht Hospital University, Maastricht, The Netherlands; fThe Neuroscience Center, Department of Neurology, Rigshospitalet, University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark; gPfizer, Täby, Sweden; hPfizer Global Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, New York, N.Y., USA
Delays in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and, therefore, delays in treatment, may have a detrimental effect on a patient’s long-term well-being. This studyassessed the effects of postponing donepezil treatment for 1 year by comparing patients treated continuously for 3 years with those who received placebo for 1 year followed by open-label donepezil for 2 years. Patients (n = 286) with possible or probable Alzheimer’s disease (according to DSM-IV, NINCDS-ADRDA, and Mini-Mental State Examination criteria; see text) were randomized to receive donepezil (5 mg/day for 4 weeks, 10 mg/day thereafter) or placebo (delayed-start group) for 1 year. Of the 192 completers, 157 began a 2-year, open-label phase of donepezil treatment. Outcome measures were the Gottfries-Bråne-Steen scale, the Mini-Mental State Examination, the Global Deterioration Scale, the Progressive Deterioration Scale, the Neuropsychiatric Inventory, and safety (adverse events). Mixed regression analysis was used to compare changes between the groups over 3 years on the efficacy measures. There was a trend for patients receiving continuous therapy to have less global deterioration (Gottfries-Bråne-Steen scale) than those who had delayed treatment (p = 0.056). Small but statistically significant differences between the groups were observed for the secondary measures of cognitive function (Mini-Mental State Examination; p = 0.004) and cognitive and functional abilities (Global Deterioration Scale; p = 0.0231) in favor of continuous donepezil therapy. Over 90% of the patients in both cohorts experienced one treatment-emergent adverse event; most were considered mild or moderate. In conclusion, patients in whom the start of treatment is delayed may demonstrate slightly reduced benefits as compared with those seen in patients starting donepezil therapy early in the course of Alzheimer’s disease. These data support the long-term efficacy and safety of donepezil.
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