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What happens when donepezil is suddenly withdrawn? An open label trial in dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease with dementia

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Thais Minett, Professor Alan ThomasORCiD, Lucy Wilkinson, Sarah Daniel, Dr Jonathan Sanders, Elizabeth Littlewood, Professor Ian McKeith


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Background. This open label study was designed to assess the effects of donepezil treatment, its withdrawal and subsequent recommencement on cognitive functioning, behaviour and parkinsonian symptoms in patients with probable dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and with Parkinson's disease who subsequently developed dementia (PDD). Methods. Eight patients with DLB and I I with PDD were treated with up to 10mg of donepezil daily for 20 weeks followed by a 6-week withdrawal period. The primary outcome measures were the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the total Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) and the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale III. Testing was conducted before dosing, at week 20, at a withdrawal visit and 3 months after recommencement on donepezil. Results. Patients with DLB and PDD showed a significant improvement in cognition with treatment, loss of this improvement on withdrawal and restoration of treatment gains on recommencement. Both groups also demonstrated favourable, behavioural changes with treatment, PDD patients in particular deteriorating significantly after withdrawal. The only NPI symptom domain that showed a consistent significant response to both treatment (positive) and withdrawal (negative) was hallucinations. The medication was well tolerated and parkinsonian features did not alter significantly over the testing sessions. Conclusions. Our results suggest that treatment with donepezil improves cognition and hallucinations without increasing parkinsonian symptoms, and its sudden withdrawal is usually detrimental, producing acute cognitive and behavioural decline. Although recommencement on donepezil appears to reverse this deterioration we do not advise its abrupt discontinuation in this population. Copyright (C) 2003 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Minett TSC, Thomas A, Wilkinson LM, Daniel SL, Sanders J, Richardson J, Littlewood E, Myint P, Newby J, McKeith IG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

Year: 2003

Volume: 18

Issue: 11

Pages: 988-993

ISSN (print): 0885-6230

ISSN (electronic): 1099-1166

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing


DOI: 10.1002/gps.995


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