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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 17, Issue 1, Pages 5-16

Current and Emerging Pharmacological Treatment Options for Dementia

John M. Ringman and Jeffrey L. Cummings

Department of Neurology, Alzheimer's Disease Research Center; University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Received 26 April 2006; Accepted 26 April 2006

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Treatments for the symptomatic relief of Alzheimer’s disease are available but despite advances in our ability to treat persons with various forms of dementia, more effective treatments are needed. The cholinesterase inhibitors donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine have demonstrated efficacy in improving cognition and global status and to a lesser extent, behavioral abnormalities relative to placebo in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Rivastigmine has been shown to benefit patients with dementia with Lewy Bodies and with dementia associated with Parkinson's disease. Donepezil and galantamine have also been shown to be mildly effective in dementia due to cerebral ischemia. Memantine has a distinct mechanism of action and is effective in moderate-to-severe AD. The benefits from these drugs, however, are limited and their long-term effectiveness has not been well-demonstrated. Their clinical utility is controversial. Many novel approaches that promise to provide more effective treatments are currently being pursued.