The Cost Benefit to Health Plans of Pharmacotherapy for Alzheimer's Disease

As with other chronic diseases of aging, early diagnosis and pharmacologic therapy may reduce the costs for enrollees with Alzheimer's disease

David S. Geldmacher, MD
University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Va.

Abstract: Treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a major public health issue, with the potential for significant impact on MCOs. As the number of people affected with AD continues to rise, the importance of this problem will grow as well. This article reviews patient and caregiver outcomes associated with reduced health care costs and their implications for MCOs. Cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEIs) are effective in treating cognitive, functional, and behavioral symptoms for patients with mild to moderate and moderate to severe AD. Treatment with memantine, an N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, has been shown to benefit patients with moderate to severe AD. Pharmacoeconomic studies indicate that donepezil and memantine treatment may reduce total costs of care for AD patients and their caregivers, with potential economic benefits to MCOs.

Author correspondence:
David S. Geldmacher, MD
Director, Memory Disorders Program
Associate Professor
Department of Neurology
University of Virginia Health System
Charlottesville, VA

Acknowledgement: Dr. Geldmacher receives research support, consulting fees, and speakers' bureau honoraria from Eisai and Pfizer; speakers' bureau honoraria from Johnson and Johnson; consulting fees and speakers' bureau honoraria from Forest Laboratories. He received compensation and editorial support from PPSI (Stamford, Conn.) for preparing this article.

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