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Thursday, April 14, 2005; Page A07

Aricept Only Delays Onset of Alzheimer's

Aricept, a drug long used to treat Alzheimer's disease, can delay its onset a bit but does not prevent it in people with mild cognitive impairment, U.S. researchers said yesterday.

And vitamin E has no effect on the disease, they reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Aricept is known generically as donepezil. For the study, Ronald Petersen of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues enrolled 769 people with an average age of 73 and mild cognitive impairment -- which can progress to the severe memory loss that marks Alzheimer's.

Mild Cases of Asthma May Not Need Daily Dose

People with mild asthma may not need daily medicine to prevent flare-ups, as doctors now recommend.

A study found that patients who take medicine only when asthma attacks occur fare about as well as those who take pills or use inhaled steroids daily.

If a further study confirms the results and patients with mild asthma switch to attacks-only treatment, about $2 billion a year would be saved on medication in the United States, lead researcher Homer A. Boushey said.

His team found that over a year, patients who took daily medicine to limit airway inflammation had about the same number of severe asthma attacks and changes in lung function as those who used asthma inhalers only when flare-ups occurred. They also reported similar quality of life.

But asthma experts warned that patients should not stop taking their "controller" medicine without consulting a doctor.

-- From News Services

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