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Drugs Found Not to Work for Alzheimer's

I reminded you a few months ago there was no magic pill that could lessen the devastating effect of Alzheimer's disease. A British Medical Journal study, based on a review of 22 clinical trials, takes that result one step further. The scientific basis for prescribing three cholinesterase inhibitors typically recommended for Alzheimer's patients -- donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Reminyl) -- is at best questionable.

Because these drugs produce a benefit in no more than 20 percent of Alzheimer's patients and this subgroup is impossible to identify, according to the review, there is disagreement about their use. But because there is a belief these drugs are of value to only some patients, all of them should be treated that way. In other words, a "one-size-fits-all" approach that doesn't work when it comes to losing weight and treating Alzheimer's patients.

So you can imagine, it's not at all surprising to me researchers found considerable flaws in the studies they reviewed regarding methodological assessments. For example, studies used multiple testing without correction for multiplicity or excluded patients after randomization. And that doesn't take into account a recent finding that taking a "magic pill" like Reminyl can increase an Alzheimer's patient's chances of dying too.

The best thing you can do for Alzheimer's is to ensure you never get it. Some quick tips to prevent that from happening:

British Medical Journal, Vol. 331, No. 7512, August 6, 2005: 321-327

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