Drug for Alzheimer’s disease increases hospitalisation risk

Researchers have found that a drug, donepezil commonly used to manage symptoms of Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia, is associated with a two-fold higher risk of hospitalisation.

According to the study published in the journal Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), using donepezil increases the risk of hospital admission for rhabdomyolysis, a painful condition of muscle breakdown, compared with several other cholinesterase inhibitors.

Dementia is a growing problem, with almost 10 million newly diagnosed cases every year around the world, said the researchers.

“The findings of this population-based cohort study support regulatory agency warnings about the risk of donepezil-induced rhabdomyolysis,” said study researcher Jamie Fleet from McMaster University in Canada.

The study, led by researchers at Western University, looked at ICES data from 2002 to 2017 on 2,20,353 patients aged 66 years or older in Ontario, Canada, with a new prescription for donepezil, rivastigmine or galantamine, three cholinesterase inhibitors used to manage dementia and Alzheimer disease.

The researchers found that donepezil was associated with a two-fold higher risk of hospitalisation for rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition that can result in kidney disease.

According to the findings, the relative risk was small but statistically significant.

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