Rivastigmine, a butyl- and acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, is approved for symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Data supporting the safety and efficacy of second-generation cholinesterase inhibitors, such as rivastigmine, are available for treatment up to 1 year, with limited data up to 2 1/2 years. The purpose of this report is to present safety and effectiveness data for rivastigmine therapy in patients with mild to moderately severe AD receiving treatment for up to 5 years.
An observational approach was used to study 37 patients with originally mild to moderate AD receiving rivastigmine as a therapy for AD in an open-label extension (ENA713, B352 Study Group, 1998).
The initial trial demonstrated rivastigmine was well-tolerated and effective in terms of cognition, global functioning and activities of daily living. In this open label extension, high-dose rivastigmine therapy was safe and well tolerated over a 5-year period. Two thirds of the participants still enrolled at week 234 were in the original high-dose rivastigmine group during the double-blind phase, suggesting that early therapy may confer some benefit in delaying long-term progression of symptoms.
Long-term cholinesterase inhibition therapy with rivastigmine was well tolerated, with no dropouts due to adverse effects past the initial titration period. Early initiation of treatment, with titration to high-dose therapy, may have an advantage in delaying progression of the illness.