Parkinson's drug shows some promise for treating Alzheimer's psychosis

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A drug approved for use in controlling hallucinations and delusions in Parkinson's patients showed mix results in a trial among Alzheimer's sufferers.  

No safe or effective pharmacological treatment is approved for psychosis in patients with Alzheimer's disease. With a push to reduce dependence on currently available anti-psychotics, researchers set out to evaluate pimavanserin's safety, tolerability, and effectiveness.

Pimavanserin, which is sold under the brand name Nuplazid, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April 2016 to treat similar problems in Parkinson's patients.

In a phase 2 randomized trial, 345 patients at 133 nursing homes across the United Kingdom were given either the medication or a placebo. After six weeks, psychosis scores dropped nearly twice as much among those taking pimavanserin.

Full results were published in the March issue of the Lancet.

British and American researchers collaborated on the study, which received funding from Acadia Pharmaceuticals. The researchers found there was “sustained benefit and safety” throughout the 12-week study, though no significant advantage for pimavanserin versus placebo was observed for the overall study population after week six. Common adverse events were falls, urinary tract infections and agitation.

Notably, the researchers said they did not observe detrimental effects on cognition or motor function in either group.

Acadia also is testing the safety and tolerability of the same drug over 52 weeks of treatment in more than 400 patients with probable Alzheimer's who have symptoms of agitation and aggression. That trial will likely end in 2020, Alzheimer's News Today reported.