Study: Alzheimer's drug improves Parkinson's-related dementia

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Medication used successfully to treat Alzheimer's disease also leads to moderate improvement in dementia caused by Parkinson's disease, according a study published in the most recent New England Journal of Medicine.

About 20% of 329 Parkinson's patients showed significant clinical improvement when given rivastigmine, which is marketed under the name Exelon, according to researcher Dr. Murat Emre of Istanbul University in Turkey.  The drug's success rate for the treatment is similar to that experienced with Alzheimer's patients.

Researchers found that after 24 weeks, patients in the rivastigmine group exhibited improvements in their dementia symptoms, compared with a worsening of dementia symptoms among those in placebo group.

Moderate or marked improvement occurred in 19.8% of those in the rivastigmine group and in 14.5% of those in the placebo group, according to study results.