OBJECTIVE: Most investigations of pharmacotherapy for treating Alzheimer's disease focus on patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms, with little evidence to guide clinical decisions when symptoms become severe. We examined whether continuing donepezil, or commencing memantine, is cost-effective for community-dwelling, moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's disease patients.
METHODS: Cost-effectiveness analysis was based on a 52-week, multicentre, double-blind, placebo-controlled, factorial clinical trial. A total of 295 community-dwelling patients with moderate/severe Alzheimer's disease, already treated with donepezil, were randomised to: (i) continue donepezil; (ii) discontinue donepezil; (iii) discontinue donepezil and start memantine; or (iv) continue donepezil and start memantine.
RESULTS: Continuing donepezil for 52 weeks was more cost-effective than discontinuation, considering cognition, activities of daily living and health-related quality of life. Starting memantine was more cost-effective than donepezil discontinuation. Donepezil-memantine combined is not more cost-effective than donepezil alone.
CONCLUSIONS: Robust evidence is now available to inform clinical decisions and commissioning strategies so as to improve patients' lives whilst making efficient use of available resources. Clinical guidelines for treating moderate/severe Alzheimer's disease, such as those issued by NICE in England and Wales, should be revisited. © 2016 The Authors. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.