Study: Drug therapy for Alzheimer's patients deemed cost effective

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Treating patients with moderately severe to severe Alzheimer's disease with the drug memantine is more cost-effective than no therapy, according to a European study in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation. Lundbeck SA, Paris, which markets the memantine as Ebixa, provided funding for the study.

Dr. Clement Francois, from Lundbeck SA, and colleagues estimated the cost implications of using memantine relative to no drug therapy over a five-year-period in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease in Finland.

"Memantine therapy was associated with approximately four extra months of independence, one additional month of residence in the community, and a cost reduction relative to placebo of approximately 1,700 euros [$2,000] per patient over 5 years," the authors write. The figures were based on 2001 costs.

Forest Laboratories sells memantine under the trade name Namenda in the United States. Merz Pharma GmbH of Germany markets it as Axura.