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Alzheimer’s: Two Drugs Better Than One

Study Shows Slowest Disease Progression With Combo Treatment

Other Approaches to Treatment

The researchers conclude that their study raises "the intriguing possibility that combination therapy modestly modifies the long-term clinical course of Alzheimer's disease."

But Alzheimer's researcher and clinician Constantine G. Lyketsos, MD, says the findings do little to change his opinion that the currently available drugs do not modify the course of the disease.

Lyketsos leads the psychiatry department at Baltimore's John's Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

"This was not a randomized trial, and that is a problem," he says. "It may be that the patients on the combination treatment were healthier to begin with and could tolerate more aggressive treatment."

Lyketsos says there is now general agreement that the approved Alzheimer's drugs can have a "small to modest" impact on symptoms, but he adds that medication is just one component of treatment.

Counseling and respite for caregivers, providing activities for patients, treating psychiatric symptoms like depression, and getting patients off other medications that they may not need are also important aspects of a comprehensive treatment plan, he says.

"Good dementia care should include a conversation with the health provider about whether drugs are needed, but it certainly isn't limited to that," he says.

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