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Clin Interv Aging. 2007;2(1):17-32.

Rivastigmine in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease: an update.

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  • 1Department of Clinical, Morphological and Technological Sciences, UCO of Clinical Psychiatry, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.


Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia in industrialized countries. In the European Union, about 54% of dementia cases are believed to be due to Alzheimer's disease. The condition is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder characterized by multiple cognitive deficiencies, including loss of memory, judgment, and comprehension. These manifestations are accompanied by behavioral and mood disturbances. Although no cure has yet been discovered for Alzheimer's disease, symptomatic therapies are now widely available and offer significant relief to patients and benefits to caregivers in terms of reduced care burden. At the start of the 21st century, health technology assessments recommended three agents for the symptomatic treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer disease: rivastigmine, donepezil, and galantamine. Rivastigmine (Exelon, Novartis Basel-Switzerland) is a slowly reversible inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE), while donepezil (Aricept, Pfizer, New York, USA) and galantamine (Reminyl, Janssen, New Jersey, USA) show no functional inhibition of BuChE, and are considered AChE-selective, rapidly-reversible inhibitors. The efficacy of all three agents has been evaluated in large, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of up to 6 months' duration. Rivastigmine treatment in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease improves cognition, activities of daily living, and global function.

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