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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Jul 20;(3):CD003154.

Memantine for dementia.

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Memantine, a low affinity antagonist to glutamate NMDA receptors, may prevent excitatory neurotoxicity in dementia.


To determine efficacy and safety of memantine for people with Alzheimer's disease (AD), vascular (VD) and mixed dementia.


The Specialized Register of the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group was searched on 20 May 2005. This register contains references from all major healthcare databases and many ongoing trial databases and is updated regularly. In addition the search engines Copernic and Google were used to identify unpublished trials through inspection of the websites of licensing bodies like the FDA , EMEA and NICE and of companies' websites (Lundbeck, Merz, Forest, Suntori etc) and clinical trials registries.


Double-blind, parallel group, placebo-controlled, randomized trials of memantine in people with dementia.


Data were pooled where possible. Intention-to-treat (ITT) and observed case (OC) analyses are reported.


1. Moderate to severe AD. Two out of three six month studies show a small beneficial effect of memantine. Pooled data indicate a beneficial effect at six months on cognition (4.12 points on the 100 point SIB , 95% CI 2.14 to 5.74, P < 0.00001), activities of daily living (1.27 points on the 54 point ADCS-ADLsev, 95% CI 0.44 to 2.09, P = 0.003) and behaviour (2.76 points on the 144 NPI, 95% CI 0.88 to 4.63, P = 0.004), supported by clinical impression of change (0.28 points on the 7 point CIBIC+, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.41, P < 0.0001).2. Mild to moderate AD. In a single six month trial, memantine had a beneficial effect on ITT analysis of cognition, (1.9 ADAS-Cog points, 95% CI 0.35 to 3.45, P = 0.02) and behaviour (3.50 NPI points 95% CI 0.15 to 6.85, P = 0.04) supported by clinical global impression of change (0.30 CIBIC+ points, 95% CI 0.09 to 0.51, P = 0.005), but no effect on activities of daily living or OC analysis of cognition. The statistical significance of these benefits could be overturned by data from two unpublished studies which are known to show no significant effect. 3. Mild to moderate vascular dementia. In two six month studies, memantine improved cognition (1.85 ADAS-Cog points, 95% CI 0.88 to 2.83, P = 0.0002), and behaviour (0.84 95% CI 0.06 to 0.91, P = 0.03) but this was not supported by clinical global measures.4. Patients taking memantine appeared to be less likely to develop agitation (93/1167 [8%] versus 134/1141 [12%] (Peto odds ratio (OR): 0.65, 95% CI 0.49 to 0.86, P = 0.002). This was consistently seen in moderate to severe dementia. There were no data which suggested an effect on agitation which is already present.5. Memantine is well tolerated.


Published data suggest a small beneficial effect of memantine at six months in moderate to severe AD. The beneficial effect on cognition in patients with mild to moderate vascular dementia was not detectable on global assessment at six months. Whether memantine has any effect in mild to moderate AD is unknown.

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