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Prescriptions of Alzheimer's drugs rose sharply in 2012

Prescriptions of Alzheimer's drugs rose sharply in 2012
23rd January 2014

The amount of drugs prescribed to Alzheimer's disease patients in 2012 was 48 per cent higher than originally predicted, a new report has revealed.

According to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, there were 52,641,284 daily doses given out of four licensed treatments for the cognitive condition.

That's significantly more than the 35,648,222 previously suggested by the government body.

The four treatments counted in the report are donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine and memantine.

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at the charity Alzheimer's Research UK, said that despite the report not stating the reason for the rise in prescriptions, it does highlight that rates of dementia are growing.

"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," he added.

"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."

Currently, an estimated 820,000 people are living with some form of dementia in the UK. Of that number, around half have Alzheimer's disease.

Unless a significant breakthrough in research is made, it is believed that the number of people with the condition will rise above one million by 2021 and 1.7 million by 2050.

While there is no cure for dementia at present, a recent US study suggests people can lower their risk of developing the illness by training their brains.

Researchers at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland split 2,800 volunteers into four groups, with some being given brain training on memory and others on speed and reasoning. The fourth group was not given any training.

After ten years, their mental abilities were assessed and 60 per cent of those given the training were found to perform better.

Find out more about Alzheimer's disease care at Barchester homes