Meeting News Coverage

Health care costs, mortality rates lower among treated patients with Alzheimer’s disease

Individuals treated for Alzheimer’s disease had lower all-cause health care costs and lower mortality rates, compared with untreated individuals, according to data presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

To compare all-cause mortality and economic burden between treated and untreated individuals newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, researchers assessed Medicare beneficiaries with claims for primary or secondary Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses and continuous medical and pharmacy benefits for at least 12 months prior to and 6 months after diagnosis (n = 6,553). Study participants were aged 75 to 84 years.

Overall, 35% of participants received anti-dementia medication (n = 2,322) an average 34 days’ post-diagnosis.

Treated individuals received donepezil (66.86%), memantine (18.59%), rivastigmine (12.54%) or galantamine (2.02%) as their first treatment.

Individuals who did not receive treatment were older, (P < .0001), had more severe baseline comorbidities (P < .0001), and high unadjusted incidence mortality rates (P < .0001).

Adjusted analysis indicated treated individuals with Alzheimer’s disease had better survival (HR = 0.722; P = .0079), fewer monthly hospice visits (P = .0001) and lower monthly all-cause costs ($2,207 vs. $2,349; P = .3037), compared with untreated patients.

“The arguments for early treatment are myriad, but this study shows greater survival and less all-cause health care costs among those receiving treatment for dementia,” Christopher M. Black, MPH, of Merck Research Laboratories, said in a press release. “These results indicate that choosing not to treat, or even a delay in starting treatment, may lead to less favorable results. Early diagnosis and time to treatment should be a priority for policymakers, physicians and the public.” – by Amanda Oldt


Black CM, et al. Comparison of all-cause mortality rate and economic burden between newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease patients who received anti-dementia treatment vs. not: A longitudinal retrospective study. Presented at: Alzheimer’s Association International Conference; July 24-28, 2016; Toronto.

Disclosure: could not confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.

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