Alzheimer's Disease Medications

In recent years, persons with dementia have benefited from a new course of treatment--a new class of prescription drugs known at "cholinesterase inhibitors" sold under the brand names Aricept, Cognex, Exelon and Reminyl. When clinically indicated, these drugs are effective in managing symptoms associated with the progression of Alzheimer's Disease. Cholinesterase inhibitors temporarily boost levels of acetylcholine, one of the brain's messenger chemicals, that become deficient in the Alzheimer brain.

Memantine is a drug approved in October 2003 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's Disease. Forest Laboratories, Inc. Memantine's developer, will market the drug under the trade name Namenda. Memantine was first approved in Germany for treatment of various neurological disorders in 1982, where it is marketed by Merz + Co. as Axura.

Memantine is classified as an uncompetitive low-to-moderate affinity N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, the first Alzheimer drug of this type approved in the United States. It appears to work by regulating the activity of glutamate, another of the brain's specialized messenger chemicals involved in information processing, storage, and retrieval. Glutamate plays an essential role in learning and memory by triggering NMDA receptors to allow a controlled amount of calcium to flow into a nerve cell, creating a chemical environment required for information storage.

Excess glutamate, on the other hand, overstimulates NMDA receptors to allow too much calcium into nerve cells, leading to disruption and death of cells. Memantine may protect cells against excess glutamate by partially blocking NMDA receptors.

Discounted Medication Sources

AARP at 1-800-456-2277 or visit

Aricept Pfizer "Share Card" Discount Program allows low-income Medicare beneficiaries to pay a flat rate of $15 for any one-month prescription. To enroll, call 1-800-717-6005.

Costco at

Exelon Novartis Care Card offers a 25% discount benefit for low-income patients. To find out more, call 1-866-974-2273.

Medicine Assist Program at 1-866-633-7482 or

Peoples Prescription Plan at 1-800-566-0003 or

Prescription Solutions at

Rx Hope at (908) 850-8004 or http://www.rxhopecom

Reminyl Patients who meet specific medical criteria and lack financial resources may request Janssen pharmaceutical assistance through their physician who must apply to Janssen by calling 1-800-652-6227.

Veteran's Administration at 1-877-222-VETS or

NOTE: Exercise caution when purchasing prescription drugs online. The Federal Food and Drug Administration offers pointers on its website:

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