Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Cummings: Agitation is a common problem in Alzheimer’s disease (AD); approximately 70% of patients with AD will experience periods of agitation. This difficult behavior challenges patients and caregivers, adversely affects quality of life, and may precipitate institutionalization. There are not drugs approved for treatment of agitation in Alzheimer’s disease.
The study reported in JAMA showed that a drug based on a combination of dextromethorphan and quinidine (DM/Q) produced statistically significant and clinically meaningful reduction in agitation in Alzheimer’s disease patients. The study met its primary outcome (decline in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory agitation scale in drug compared to placebo) and many of its secondary outcomes (e.g, decreases in caregiver stress). The agent was safe and well tolerated.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Cummings: Agitation is treatable and new drugs will be developed to address this challenge. DM/Q is being advanced to a Phase 3 study in anticipation of submission to the FDA and eventual market approval.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Cummings: DM/Q should be studied further to determine the consistency and magnitude of the effect as well as to verify its safety.
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Jeffrey L. Cummings, M.D., Sc.D. (2015). New Drug Combination Studies To Treat Agitation in Alzheimer’s Disease