A new report into the use of licensed medicines in England has shown the use of drug treatments for Alzheimer’s disease was 48% higher than expected in 2012. The report, released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre today, shows that the use of four licensed treatments for Alzheimer’s – measured by daily doses – was at 52,641,284 doses compared to an expected 35,647,222 doses.
The four treatments currently licensed to treat Alzheimer’s are donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), galantamine (Reminyl) and memantine (Ebixa and Axura). Donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine may be prescribed for people with mild to moderate stage Alzheimer’s, while memantine is prescribed for people in the moderate to severe stages of the disease.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:
“Although the report’s authors caution that there is some uncertainty around these figures, and the reasons for the prescribing rates are unclear from this data, the findings serve to highlight the huge scale of the problem posed by dementia today. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting around half a million people in the UK with a devastating impact both for individuals and for society as a whole. The treatments examined in this report do not affect the course of the disease, and although they offer some relief from some of the symptoms, their effects wear off over time. There is still a desperate need for effective treatments that can act against the disease process, as well as strategies to prevent the disease, but sustained investment in research is crucial if we are to achieve this.”