There are four licensed drugs for Alzheimer’s disease: donepezil, galantamine, memantine and rivastigmine. There are also several types of cognitive therapy that could benefit people with all types of dementia.

People with Alzheimer’s may find that their condition improves by taking one of these drugs, such as improvements in cognition, memory, communication or day-to-day activities. These drugs do not stop the disease from progressing in the brain.

There are several types of cognitive therapy that could benefit people with all types of dementia. Cognitive skills can be described as thinking skills, and cognition is a word used to describe thought processes. Cognitive stimulation activities are designed to stimulate thinking skills and engage people who have dementia.

Page last reviewed: 10/05/2018

Source: NICE Technology Appraisals in the NHS in England (Innovation Scorecard): to December 2015

Donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine are recommended as options for managing mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and memantine is recommended as an option for managing people with moderate or severe Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Source: NICE Technology Appraisals in the NHS in England (Innovation Scorecard): to December 2015

Source: NICE Technology Appraisals in the NHS in England (Innovation Scorecard): to December 2015

Source: Prince, M et al (2014) Dementia UK: Update Second Edition report produced by King’s College London and the London School of Economics for the Alzheimer’s Society

Source: Prince, M et al (2014) Dementia UK: Update Second Edition report produced by King’s College London and the London School of Economics for the Alzheimer’s Society

Source: Parliamentary written question 138987 Alzheimer’s Disease via Prescription Cost Analysis

Source: England: Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2006 – 2016; NHS Digital Wales: Prescriptions dispensed in the community [NS] Welsh Government website [Scotland: Prescribing and Medicines; Medicines for Mental Health by the Information Services Division  Northern Ireland; Pharmaceutical Statistics by the Health and Social Care Business Services Organisation

Source: England: Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2006 – 2016; NHS Digital Wales: Prescriptions dispensed in the community [NS] Welsh Government website [Scotland: Prescribing and Medicines; Medicines for Mental Health by the Information Services Division  Northern Ireland; Pharmaceutical Statistics by the Health and Social Care Business Services Organisation

This graph shows the number of prescriptions of dementia drugs in the UK for each of the symptomatic treatments available.

A variety of factors affect prescribing practices such as changes in guidelines, research on optimal practice and cost. For more information on the current treatment guidelines, click here.

Source: England: Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2006 – 2016; NHS Digital Wales: Prescriptions dispensed in the community [NS] Welsh Government website [Scotland: Prescribing and Medicines; Medicines for Mental Health by the Information Services Division  Northern Ireland; Pharmaceutical Statistics by the Health and Social Care Business Services Organisation

This graph shows the total cost of dementia drug prescriptions in each of the four nations of the UK over the last decade.

For more information about how drug prices are set in the UK, click to visit the Department of Health website.

Source: England: Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2006 – 2016; NHS Digital Wales: Prescriptions dispensed in the community [NS] Welsh Government website [Scotland: Prescribing and Medicines; Medicines for Mental Health by the Information Services Division  Northern Ireland; Pharmaceutical Statistics by the Health and Social Care Business Services Organisation