Background: The objective was to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of donepezil (5 and 10 mg/day) compared with placebo in alleviating manifestations of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD). Method: A systematic review of individual patient data from Phase II and III double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled studies of up to 24 weeks and completed by 20 December 1999. The main outcome measures were the ADAS-cog, the CIBIC-plus, and reports of adverse events. Results: A total of 2376 patients from ten trials were randomised to either donepezil 5 mg/day (n = 821), 10 mg/day (n = 662) or placebo (n = 893). Cognitive performance was better in patients receiving donepezil than in patients receiving placebo. At 12 weeks the differences in ADAS-cog scores were 5 mg/day-placebo: - 2.1 [95% confidence interval (CI), - 2.6 to - 1.6; p < 0.001], 10 mg/day-placebo: - 2.5 ( - 3.1 to - 2.0; p < 0.001). The corresponding results at 24 weeks were - 2.0 ( - 2.7 to - 1.3; p < 0.001) and - 3.1 ( - 3.9 to - 2.4; p < 0.001). The difference between the 5 and 10 mg/day doses was significant at 24 weeks (p = 0.005). The odds ratios (OR) of improvement on the CIBIC-plus at 12 weeks were: 5 mg/day-placebo 1.8 (1.5 to 2.1; p < 0.001), 10 mg/day-placebo 1.9 (1.5 to 2.4; p < 0.001). The corresponding values at 24 weeks were 1.9 (1.5 to 2.4; p = 0.001) and 2.1 (1.6 to 2.8; p < 0.001). Donepezil was well tolerated; adverse events were cholinergic in nature and generally of mild severity and brief in duration. Conclusion: Donepezil (5 and 10 mg/day) provides meaningful benefits in alleviating deficits in cognitive and clinician-rated global function in AD patients relative to placebo. Increased improvements in cognition were indicated for the higher dose. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
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