Memantine enhances language and communication skills in patients with Alzheimer's disease

Memantine enhances language and communication skills in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a valuable contribution for patient independence and quality of life for both the patient and the family/caregivers. These are the findings discussed at the 14th Congress of the European Federation of Neurological Societies (EFNS).

The data of a pooled analysis of six large, randomized clinical studies support that AXURA®/AKATINOL® – an uncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonist – effects language skills in AD patients and improves cognitive abilities and functional communication. Leading neurologists emphasize that improvement of language and communication skills is a meaningful treatment target. Furthermore, 36% of caregivers consider communication to be the most troublesome aspect of AD.

Communication is much more than the mere exchange of information. Communication allows us to share ideas, express emotions, and send and receive messages. It's a verbal or nonverbal way of relating to another, a representation of who we are as human beings, and a reflection of feelings and thoughts through words, attitude, facial expressions, tone of voice, and/or body language. Language impairment is one of the most troublesome manifestations of AD. In AD, communication problems revolve around language issues. On the occasion of a Merz satellite symposium held at the EFNS new data has shown that impairments in language/communication can reduce patient independence and autonomy, in addition to compromising quality of life.(1) Therefore, it is important that the treatment of language and communication problems is regarded as an integral part of AD management.

Memantine, an N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe AD, has shown to provide benefits in language and communication skills. In a pooled analysis of six large, randomized clinical studies, Memantine was superior to placebo and associated with significantly more responders, and fewer worsening patients, in the cognitive clusters of language, memory and praxis.(2) Further, in a 24-week randomized study patients taking Memantine (+ Donepezil) did significantly better than patients receiving placebo (+ Donepezil) on the "naming" subscale and the "functional communication" score.(3) These findings suggest, that AD treatment with Memantine has shown significant effects on aspects of language and functional communication. Such benefits could have a beneficial impact on the daily lives of patients with AD, their families and caregivers. The conclusion of the symposium was: Improving and preserving language and communication skills in patients with AD is a meaningful treatment target that can facilitate social interaction.
AXURA®/AKATINOL® has proven to be a safe and tolerable treatment option with a strong impact on functional communication in Alzheimer’s patients. Improved communication skills in AD patients may reduce stress for patients and caregivers and keep them longer connected.

Dementia is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects memory, thinking, behavior and emotion. Dementia knows no social, economic, ethnic or geographical boundaries and affects people throughout the world. When dementia progresses affected individuals need care with all aspects of daily life, worldwide mostly families provide this care. AD is the most common cause of dementia and accounts for 50-60% of all cases and is caused by abnormal brain tissue changes. International studies make it clear that dementia occurs in every country of the world. Dementia affects 1 in 20 people aged 65 plus and 1 in 5 aged 80 plus. Worldwide there are an estimated 30 million people with dementia. By 2050 the number will rise to over 100 million. AD affects 5.3 million people in the U.S. and is the 7th leading cause of death. AD causes 172 billion dollars in annual costs and puts a heavy burden on 10.9 million unpaid caregivers.(4) In light of this, drugs like AXURA® / AKATINOL® may represent an impactful treatment choice to efficiently face this socioeconomic challenge.

References
1 Satellite symposium “Are communication deficits in Alzheimer’s disease relevant target for intervention?” held at the 14th congress of the European Federation of Neurological Societies, Geneva, Switzerland, September 26, 2010.
2 Emre, M. et al. “Pooled analysis on cognitive effects of memantine in patients with mod-erate to severe Alzheimer's disease” J Alzheimers Dis. 2008 Jun;14 (2):193-9.
3 Saxton J, Tariot PN, Tocco M, et al. Poster presented at AAN 2008
4 Alzheimer's Association “2010 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures“, www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_figures.asp

About Memantine
Memantine is an NMDA-receptor antagonist, the first in a class of AD medications with a unique mechanism of action that focuses on the glutamatergic system. Glutamate is the most common excitatory neurotransmitter in the CNS and the modulation of the glutamatergic neurotransmission is a major target for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Memantine was developed by Merz and licensed to Forest for the U.S. and Lundbeck for selected European and international markets. Memantine is marketed under the brands Axura® and Akatinol® by Merz, Namenda® by Forest and Ebixa® by Lundbeck.

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