Pharmaceutical International News - June 2012
Alzheimer’s Drugs Can Thicken Bones
Posted by Paul Fiddian - Pharmaceutical International's Lead Reporter on 14/06/2012 - 10:30:00
Two key Alzheimer's treatment drugs can help firm up bones, too, according to the latest medical research.
The new study, now published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, adds further weight to ideas that the brain has direct control over bone density.
It's already known that rivastigmine and donepezil - the two drugs featured in this study - have a powerful effect on brain-based neurons that help with memories. Both have become popular memory loss remedies for Alzheimer's patients since first being approved by drug regulators over a decade ago but never before have they been linked to bone thickness.
Alzheimer's Drugs: Bone Thickness
Now, a team spearheaded by McGill University's Faleh Tamimi has confirmed that both Alzheimer's drug treatments have a positive impact on bone thickness and lower the chance of Alzheimer's patients suffering hip fractures, too.
"These findings improve our understanding of bone disease and open a new therapeutic window for the treatment of osteoporosis", he said in a statement, adding: "An added value of this discovery is that the drugs we found to be beneficial for preventing hip fractures are readily available in pharmacies."
Alzheimer's Drug Bone Research
The Alzheimer's drug bone research team examined thousands of patients, all aged at least 75 and linked through having all been treated at the same Spanish hospital.
Among these patients, there were 80 hip fractures, while the remainder had intact hips. These statistics allowed Tamimi and his colleagues to firm up an association between rivastigmine, donepezil and bone strength.
"Even though more tests are required to confirm our findings, the fact that donepezil and rivastigmine have been proven safe will facilitate the translation of our discovery into clinical application for treating patients suffering from osteoporosis", he added.
Sold as Exelon, rivastigmine comes as an oral medication and a patch applied to the skin. It's FDA-approved as a treatment both for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients and, to date, it's been prescribed to over six million people around the world.
Donepezil is sold as Aricept and, in 2011, was the world's top-selling Alzheimer's drug. Developed throughout the 1980s, it was FDA-approved in 1996.
Donepezil image copyright US National Institutes of Health
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