The FDA has begun examining the results of a study of the drug Aricept, which is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The study examined 974 patients suffering from dementia. There were 11 deaths among patients taking Aricept as compared to no deaths occurred among those taking the placebo. The study was carried out by Eisai, a Japanese pharmaceutical company that sells Aricept. Aricept is also sold by Pfizer. Susan Bro, a spokeswoman for the FDA, said the agency is examining the results of the study. The agency undertook a review of earlier Aricept studies and found no cause for concern. Medical experts say that the new study should not be written off and that it might indicate that Aricept and similar drugs increase the risks of heart disease, The New York Times reported. An Eisai spokesperson said Aricept is safe and the company is not recommending any changes to the drug’s label.
More Research Needed on Aricept and Heart Problems
Last year, a British study concluded that Aricept does not delay the onset of disability or the need for nursing-home care for Alzheimer’s patients. The study said the drug provided little overall benefit and was expensive. Dr. Lon Schneider, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and gerontology at the University of Southern California, believes that while no additional large trials of Aricept have found a similar risk, it does not indicate that such a risk is absent. Few trials have followed patients for long enough or included enough patients with serious heart problems.
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