Harvard Health Letter

Combination therapy no advantage in Alzheimer's treatment

Treating moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's disease with a combination of memantine (Namenda) and donepezil (Aricept) offers no advantage over donepezil only, according to a study published in the March 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study involved about 300 patients with moderate-to-severe disease who were already taking donepezil. The patients were then divided into four groups: those who stayed on donepezil only; those who discontinued donepezil; those who stopped taking donepezil and started taking memantine; and those who continued with donepezil and also started taking memantine. After one year, moderate benefits were seen in patients who continued taking donepezil, but there was no apparent advantage in combination therapy that also included memantine. Switching to memantine only also failed to result in any significant improvements.

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