A popular drug used to treat Alzheimer's patients appears to provide no benefit to those who may be in the early stages of the disease, CNN reports. Although the drug is approved by the FDA for only moderate to severe cases, many physicians have been prescribing it off-label for milder cases. But their efforts are in vain, according to a study reported by CNN:
"We conclude that there is a lack of efficacy in mild Alzheimer's," says the study's lead researcher, Lon Schneider, M.D., a professor of psychiatry, neurology, and gerontology at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. "We think physicians, patients, and caregivers should simply know this."
(Even so), nearly one-fifth of all people with mild Alzheimer's received the drug in 2006, and the rates may be far higher in some hospitals and practices, according to the study, which appears in the journal Archives of Neurology.Many neurologists -- 40 percent, by one estimate -- even prescribe the drug for mild cognitive impairment, a condition that may or may not progress to full-blown dementia."