Medication Feed

Medications Should be Carefully Controlled as Alzheimer’s Advances

Medical_drugs_tablets_222894While Alzheimer’s specific drugs may help slow symptoms for some people, they also may increase the risk of hip fractures, fainting, urinary problems and other health issues. Most researchers now think that a time comes when many medications for the elderly are no longer beneficial and may be harmful. According to an article in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester looked at 5,406 nursing home residents who had late-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia with more than half of them being older than 85. The scientists found that 2,911 of the patients – nearly 54 percent - were taking at least one medication of questionable benefit. 

Continue reading on HealthCentral about when it's time to start pulling back on Alzheimer's medications:

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Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling


Treating Pain in Elderly a Careful Balance

FriendlyOlderWomanDear Carol: My mother is 87-years-old and lives with terrible arthritis pain. She had one hip replacement at age 75, but it’s too risky to do more surgery now. When she uses her walker every step is agony. Mom recently moved from assisted living to a wonderful nursing home because she needs a wheelchair fairly often and she has developed some other health problems. They take good care of her, but it seems as if more could be done for her pain. Her stomach is sensitive so all she takes is Tylenol. Mom has always been brave about her pain and she doesn’t complain but I can only imagine how bad it is. I’ve seen her X-rays. She has virtually no cartilage in her knees or hip. Her hands and feet are swollen and twisted. How can I help? Katherine

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Global Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling


What’s Developing in Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

 By Lawrence Friedhoff, MD, PhD


Lawrence_FriedhoffMy work in Alzheimer’s disease therapeutics began about 20 years ago. After completing my medical training, I was interested to explore another side of medicine—how new drugs are developed.

Attitudes toward dementia have changed drastically over the past two decades. Back then, the term Alzheimer’s disease wasn’t widely used, nor was Alzheimer's disease seen as a credible illness. Instead, people referred to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as "senile dementia,” an inevitable consequence of aging that was considered untreatable.

In the early 90’s, I began working for a mid-size pharmaceutical company, and was placed in charge of finding promising new drugs to bring to market. In looking through many drug candidates and speaking with the scientists who had invented them, I came across a molecule, “E2020,” that I suspected would be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. I was able to obtain some development budget for E2020, and worked with a small team to get the molecule worldwide drug approval. About 5 years later, that drug became available to patients as Aricept (donepezil), which was then, and is still, the most widely used Alzheimer’s disease treatment.

Scientific and public attitudes about Alzheimer's disease changed with the approval of Aricept and subsequent medications: doctors became more educated about the disease and its diagnosis, and patients and their caregivers became more optimistic about the development of even better treatments.

The medical and scientific communities want to answer that call. Recently, there has been a push to explore medicines targeting a particular protein, beta amyloid, which tends to accumulate in the brain as we age, and is associated with dementia. The hope that these beta amyloid-targeted products could cure Alzheimer's disease meant an enormous amount of time and money was put into their development. Unfortunately, thus far, these investigational drugs have not yet shown any convincing benefit to patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Although scientists are still pursuing new beta amyloid treatments, I believe the scientific community is turning its attention back to neurotransmitter-targeted drugs, which, like Aricept, act on essential chemicals within the brain in order to augment the brain’s normal functions. I’m currently leading the development of one such drug, called RVT-101, which has strong evidence of benefit to mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s patients’ cognition and ability to perform daily living activities.

RVT-101 appears to be very well tolerated and is an oral, once-daily pill, so it’s easy for patients to take. Based on the results obtained to date, we believe RVT-101 has a good chance of becoming a widely-used drug for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. We are currently enrolling patients in a Phase III clinical trial of RVT-101, and we think it will be the final trial needed in order to get FDA approval and make the drug available to all patients. Until then, all patients who enroll in and complete our large clinical trial will have the opportunity to receive RVT-101 for up to one full year.

It's important to understand that clinical trials are a fundamental part of getting new treatments to patients, and are especially important for Alzheimer's disease drugs. Tests of Alzheimer's disease treatments in animals have not been predictive of the results in human patients except in a few rare cases. Furthermore, clinical trials can provide benefit to both the patient and future generations: they provide patients an opportunity to get a new drug earlier than would otherwise be possible, and participants may contribute to the advancement of drugs that help other patients. As Alzheimer’s disease occurs more frequently in women than in men, women’s participation in clinical research is particularly important.

However, patients should remember that there is no guarantee that the investigational drug in a clinical trial will ultimately prove to be beneficial— and all drugs have side effects. If clinical trials interest you or a loved one, make sure to discuss participation with your doctor and the staff running the clinical trial in order to determine which clinical trial, if any, is right.

BIO:

Dr. Friedhoff's career in pharmaceutical R&D has spanned more than three decades. During this time he has led and managed teams that developed and obtained approval for six new drugs, including Aricept® (donepezil), the most widely used drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Friedhoff is the Chief Development Officer at Axovant Sciences, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on dementia solutions. He is the author of "New Drugs: An Insider's Guide to the FDA Approval Process for Scientists, Investors, and Patients" and has authored and co-authored numerous articles for peer-reviewed publications. He holds an MD from New York University, a PhD in Chemistry from Columbia University, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

The MINDSET Study for Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer’s Is Open for Enrollment! 

As a participant in the MINDSET study, Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers can have access to study-related medical care from specialized teams in this field.  Participants can continue to see their regular doctor(s) while participating in this study, and medical insurance is not required to participate. 

Interested patients and caregivers are invited to visit www.AlzheimersGlobalStudy.com to see if they may pre-qualify.


A Speech Pathologist Explains Common Swallowing Issues Part 1: Causes and Coping

FoodA few months ago, a gerontologist told us her story about how she coped as a family caregiver when her father developed swallowing problems (dysphagia). Considering the seriousness and frequency of these issues with aging adults, I felt that we needed further information from a specialist. I contacted speech-language pathologist Kathryn Kilpatrick, who has spent four decades helping people cope with these issues.

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A Twitter Chat: Why Should Caregivers and People with Chronic Illness Participate?

TWEETThursday, November 12, 2015, HealthCentral -  via their @health_tips Twitter handle  - will host a day long Twitter Takeover. This takeover will use the hashtag #chroniclife. The discussion is for people with chronic illness; caregivers for people of all ages; people with Alzheimer’s or any type of dementia or those caring for someone with any type of dementia; hospice care providers and those who use hospice for their comforting end-of-life services. In other words, the gathering is for just about anyone who has a concern about health or caregiving.

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How Do Caregivers Know If Alzheimer’s Drugs Are Helping or Hurting?

Medical_drugs_tablets_222894Dear Carol: My wife, Ann, has started taking some drugs that are supposed to help with her Alzheimer’s disease. She was just diagnosed last month but she’s had symptoms for the last year or so. Ann takes a combination of two drugs and the side effects aren’t pleasant. She’s been dizzy, constipated and has a headache almost non-stop. She has some confusion, but confusion was one of the reasons she started the drugs. What I want to know is how are we supposed to tell if these drugs are helping, hurting or doing nothing but giving her extra problems? – R.S.

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“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Non-drug Approach to Alzheimer's Management

Caregiver_cropped_hands_2Scientists from University of Michigan Medical School and Johns Hopkins University have now concluded that drugs like antipsychotics and antidepressants are not good options for people with dementia. They favor, instead, hands-on, non-drug approaches that caregivers can use to cope with the behavioral issues that often occur in people with dementia.   According to an article on Science Daily, “non-drug approaches should be the first choice for treating dementia patients' common symptoms such as irritability, agitation, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, aggression, apathy and delusions.” This research was recently published in the British Medical Journal. 

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“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Alzheimer's Sleep Issues Challenge Exhausted Caregivers

NighttreesExhausted caregivers often say that one of the hardest things for them is that they can’t get quality sleep. Even caregivers who have loved ones outside of their homes can have problems since they are still on call day and night for frequent emergencies. However, it’s the Alzheimer’s caregivers who have the hardest time since Alzheimer’s disease can cause severe sleep disruption. 

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“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


How To Get People With Dementia To Take Medication

Medical_tablets_03_hd_pictures_168380As Alzheimer’s spreads throughout the brain, logic departs. The ability to understand one’s world disappears, understandably being replaced by fear and suspicion. These emotions are often blamed by caregivers when the person that they love refuses to take needed medications. 

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Common Drugs with Disturbing Mental Side Effects

Fog2Many of us have become aware that prescription medications such as Ativan, Xanax and Klonopin may have serious side effects including memory issues. These drugs, which are generally prescribed for anxiety, can possibly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease since they are in a class known as anticholinergic drugs. They work by blocking a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine in the nervous system. 

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