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Stopping dementia drug increases nursing home need

Withdrawing a common Alxheimer's drug from people in the advanced stages of the disease doubles their risk of being placed in a nursing home within a year, research from University College London (UCL) revealed.

The DOMINO trial, published in The Lancet Neurology, found that withdrawing the commonly prescribed drug donepezil doubled the risk of nursing home placement after a year. However, the drug is typically withdrawn in the later stages of the disease because of a lack of perceived benefit.

The researchers followed 295 people with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease to monitor the effects of continuing or discontinuing the drug.

In response to the findings, Dr Kathryn Adcock, head of neurosciences and mental health at the Medical Research Council, said: “This study provides strong evidence that donepezil can benefit people in the more severe stages of Alzheimer's disease for longer than was expected. 

“The number of people with dementia is at a critical level and it's never been more important to invest in research to help doctors make informed decisions about treatments for their patients,” she added.