In the study, 42% of candidates taking the drug ended up in institutions within 3 years, compared to 44% who ended up in institutions after taking placebo. The author of this study, Richard Gray, said, "Doctors and health care funders need to question whether it would be better to invest in more doctors and nurses and more social support rather than spending huge sums of money prescribing these expensive drugs."
The findings presented here certainly don't surprise me. When independent studies are conducted on high-profit, brand-name prescription drugs, they typically come to a very different conclusion than the one offered by the manufacturer of that drug. As we know, drug trials are frequently distorted and selected to show only the positive results. These findings are then forwarded to the FDA, where the drugs are approved for widespread use. But during this process, studies showing negative effects of the drug are ignored or buried and are almost never made public unless they have to be revealed in lawsuits. What we see in this case is a very expensive Alzheimer's drug that, from a scientific standpoint, has little or no benefit to patients, but yet is right now being marketed and prescribed as something that offers a tremendous benefit to patients.
If you look at the marketing materials offered by the manufacturer of Aricept, you will find a large number of statements that imply this drug enhances the quality of life of Alzheimer's patients (and especially boosts their mental performance in significant ways). But as this independent study seems to indicate, those claims are distorted, or, you could say they are accurate but they are highly selective statements, designed to get physicians and patients to focus on the few things the drug does improve, while ignoring the overall quality of life to the patient (which is not improved by the drug).
All of this is yet more evidence that prescription drugs largely do not work. They are over-hyped, over-sold, and approved for widespread use under rather dubious conditions. In an astounding number of cases, when FDA-approved prescription drugs are held up to the scrutiny of independent tests, they are found to be all but worthless. As Americans, we are being sold empty promises in the form of extremely expensive prescription drugs marketed by companies that seem to be far more interested in profits than in improving the quality of life of people around the world.
Alzheimer's drugs in particular are extremely profitable due to the growing epidemic of Alzheimer's in the United States and around the world. In the decades ahead, Alzheimer's disease is expected to skyrocket, creating potentially a multi-billion dollar market for prescription drugs to treat the symptoms of the disease. You can bet that more and more of these prescription drugs will be approved and marketed with dubious claims that exaggerate the benefits of the drug and minimize the drug's risks.
If you really want to prevent Alzheimer's, you can do that by making lifestyle changes. You can change your diet, give yourself outstanding nutrition (search this site for "Alzheimer's" to learn more), and avoid the metabolic disruptors that disrupt normal nervous system function in the human body. Those include ingredients such as MSG, aspartame, and artificial colors. You can also engage in mentally challenging activities such as doing crossword puzzles, playing card games with friends, giving speeches, or playing strategy games. Learning a new language also engages the brain and helps prevent Alzheimer's. Sitting in front of the TV, on the other hand, promotes the onset of Alzheimer's, as do other activities that don't engage the brain in a constructive way such as voting for President Bush.