Alzheimer’s Drug Does not Relieve Agitation

Namenda improves cognitive symptoms for Alzheimers but not agitation symptoms

(RxWiki News) A new study shows that Namenda (memantine), used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), does not improve agitation symptoms.

As AD progresses, agitation is a common symptom that often appears as restlessness, anxiousness, or becoming easily upset.

A recent study looked at this aspect, specifically, and found that Namenda did not appear to offer any benefit to these symptoms.

"Talk with a doctor if a loved one with AD experiences agitation"

The study, led by Chris Fox, MD, of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, enrolled 149 patients with AD who also had moderate to severe agitation as a symptom.  Patients were either given Namenda (memantine) or placebo, and their symptoms were measured after six and 12 weeks of treatment.

The researchers found that agitation symptoms were not improved by the use of memantine. Patients who were taking memantine showed improvement on measures of cognitive ability, but their agitation was not improved at either six or twelve weeks into treatment.

The authors concluded that memantine is not effective at reducing agitation in AD. They urge the scientific community to search, specifically, for better treatments for agitation in AD because it is a symptom that greatly reduces quality of life for both the patient and the caregivers.

Memantine is currently approved in the US for moderate to severe AD. The FDA clinical trial reports show that memantine is effective at improving cognitive function within 12 weeks. The study by Dr. Fox and colleagues is the first to look at agitation as a specific symptom.

This study was published in the May 2012 issue of PLoS One.  The study was funded by Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals, and the authors report affiliations with Novartis, Pfizer, and Lilly, among others.

Review Date: 
May 5, 2012