Providing a common drug for Alzheimer’s for longer could half the chances of patients needing to be moved into care homes due to dementia.
This is according to a new study which suggests that should the NHS give the drug donepzil to patients in the late stage of the disease then it could slow the decline of people with mild to moderate dementia.
The research led by University College London contradicts the common NHS practise to withdraw the drug in the later stages of the disease, a decision which has come about due to a lack of evidence that it can help.
However, of the 295 participants who took part in the recent study, of those who were given donepzil, 20 per cent were living in a care home within a year, in comparison to 37 per cent of those who were not given it.
The research, which was published in the journal Lancet Neurology was part of a follow-up analysis and concluded that more investigation into the reasons for nursing home admission was needed, but the study did provide evidence which may be helpful to medical professionals when prescribing medication in older people.
Commenting on the results, Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer’s Society, which co-funded the trial along with the Medical Research Council, said that the findings “are of real significance to people with dementia”.
Dr Brown went on to say: “We urge clinicians to consider the implications of this research and adjust their prescribing patterns accordingly.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, around 800,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, with one-in-three people over 65 likely to develop the condition.
The charity reports that the number of people with dementia is increasing as life expectancies rise and it is estimated that one million more people will have dementia by 2021.
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