Drug combination significantly reduces inappropriate laughter, crying in people with dementia, trial shows

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A two-drug combination significantly reduces inappropriate laughter and crying related to dementia, according to recently presented findings from a Phase 2 clinical trial.

More than 100 patients received doses of dextromethorphan/quinidine during the 12-week trial, according to news reports. At the start, patients were experiencing as many as 90 episodes of laughter or crying weekly. About 70% of participants were between zero and 20 episodes by the end of the trial.

The drug combo was “well tolerated,” according to a research summary. The findings were presented Nov. 21 at the International Conference on Clinical Trials for Alzheimer's Disease in Philadelphia.

Clinicians and patients both reported on perceived changes, and about 80% of both groups said there was improvement, according to Medscape.

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant, and quinidine is an arrhythmia drug. The combination, called Nuedexta and made by Avanir Pharmaceuticals, has been FDA-approved to treat uncontrollable laughter and crying in patients with multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.