Anti-Inflammatory Medications Fail To Slow Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, Study Finds
Anti-inflammatory drugs fail to slow the progression of cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease patients, according to a study published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, the Wall Street Journal reports (Landers, Wall Street Journal, 6/4). The yearlong study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, examined 351 people with "mild-to-moderate" Alzheimer's and an average age of 73 to 74, the New York Times reports. In the study, one-third of the participants were given naproxen, an over-the-counter drug sold as Aleve; one-third were given rofecoxib, a prescription drug sold as Vioxx; and one-third were given a placebo. After a year, the researchers tested the enrollees' memory and use of language and found that the Alzheimer's had progressed unabated in each group. The researchers also found no statistically significant difference in the participants' moods, functioning and enjoyment of life (Duenwald, New York Times, 6/4). Previously, laboratory testing and some epidemiological studies had suggested that inflammation could play a role in Alzheimer's, leading some researchers to theorize that anti-inflammatory drugs could slow Alzheimer's, the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 6/4).
"Treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients with these drugs is not justified," Georgetown University Medical Center's Dr. Paul Aisen, lead author of the study, said. Aisen added that people should not take anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent Alzheimer's (New York Times, 6/4). However, Dr. George Bartzokis, director of an Alzheimer's and memory disorders clinic at the University of California-Los Angeles, said that it is still possible that anti-inflammatory drugs could help prevent Alzheimer's in people who have yet to develop it, the Los Angeles Times reports (Mestel, Los Angeles Times, 6/4). Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, an Alzheimer's specialist at Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital, agreed, saying that the study is "hitting the disease too late in the game" (Wall Street Journal, 6/4). The study is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.