Advice and explanations about dementia testing, diagnosis, medical practitioners and medications.

Dementia Drugs: What You Need To Know

Dementia Drugs: What You Need To Know


The latest innovation in Alzheimer’s meds is just that — late.

So much so that a novel treatment has failed to materialize in more than a decade.

Developers hunting for a new, effective medication for treating Alzheimer’s are experiencing the longest dry spell since the introduction of Tacrine in the 1980s. It took seven decades for that breakthrough to hit the market.

Tacrine, which was sold under the brand name Cognex, has been discontinued in the U.S. But there remain two types of dementia medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease — cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA receptor antagonists.

The first helps with memory; the latter helps to slow brain damage.

Both classes of drugs are meant to “make the patient a little bit brighter, think more clearly and remember a bit more,” said Dr. Bill Netzer, a senior research associate at The Rockefeller University and a scientific liaison to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation in New York.

How Well Do These Drugs Work?

Examples of Cholinesterase Inhibitors

Example of an NDMA Receptor Antagonist

What About Alternative Treatments?


Matt Kwong is a writer based in Atlanta, Georgia, and Toronto, Ontario


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Matt Kwong

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