Medications Do Not Seem to Reduce Aggression or Agitation in Alzheimer’s

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Pharmacological treatments to reduce agitation and aggression in people with Alzheimer’s do not seem to work better than placebo, according to a systematic review of the medical literature published in International Psychogeriatrics. The researchers also stated that all the major studies done so far have not produced a reliable evidence base to draw from.

The French and British researchers found 18 randomized controlled trials comparing medications with either placebo or other drugs in the treatment of agitation and aggression in Alzheimer’s patients between January 2008 and December 2013. They found it difficult to draw many conclusions because the trials all used different definitions of “clinically significant” aggression or agitation. The trials were designed so differently it was difficult to compare them, and they all used different scales to measure outcomes. However, the researchers did establish that, “Placebo response was notable in all trials.”

“As with so many aspects of old age psychiatry, we as a group of professionals could do better, and so we should — soon!” commented an editorial accompanying the study.

(Full text) (Ames, David. Commentary paper of the month: Developing medicines for agitation and aggression in Alzheimer’s disease. International Psychogeriatrics. February 2015. DOI: DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1041610214002592)

(Abstract) Medication development for agitation and aggression in Alzheimer disease: review and discussion of recent randomized clinical trial design (Soto, Maria et al. International Psychogeriatrics. February 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1041610214002592)

2 COMMENTS

  1. They may not reduce aggression, but they are quite effective at reducing lifespan, apparently, leading to a black box warning against using these drugs on the elderly. But of course, they’re still used every day, all over the country, with impunity. Class action lawsuit, anyone?

    —- Steve

  2. “As with so many aspects of old age psychiatry, we as a group of professionals could do better, and so we should — soon!”
    Yeah. Retire or do something useful for the society for a change. Volunteer in a soup kitchen or take a part in climate march or something and stop torturing the elderly.

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