A multinational, randomised, 12-week study comparing the effects of donepezil and galantamine in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2004 Jan;19(1):58-67. doi: 10.1002/gps.1038.


Objectives: To compare directly, in the same patient cohort, the ease of use and tolerability of donepezil and galantamine in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD), and investigate the effects of both treatments on cognition and activities of daily living (ADL).

Methods: Patients with mild to moderate AD from 14 European centres were randomised to receive open-label donepezil (up to 10 mg once daily) or galantamine (up to 12 mg twice daily) for 12 weeks, according to the approved product labelling. Physicians and caregivers completed questionnaires rating satisfaction with treatment/ease of use in daily practice. Secondary assessments were the ADAS-cog, the MMSE, and the DAD scale to assess ADL. Tolerability was evaluated by reporting adverse events (AEs).

Results: Both physicians and caregivers reported significantly greater overall satisfaction/ease of use for donepezil (n = 64) compared with galantamine (n = 56) at weeks 4, 12, and endpoint (week 12 LOCF; all p-values <0.05). Significantly greater improvements in cognition were also observed for donepezil versus galantamine on the ADAS-cog at Week 12 and endpoint (p-values <0.05). ADL improved significantly in the donepezil group compared with the galantamine group at weeks 4, 12, and endpoint (p-values <0.05). Most AEs were mild to moderate, however, 46% galantamine-treated patients reported gastrointestinal AEs vs 25% donepezil patients.

Conclusions: Physician and caregiver ease of use/satisfaction scores, and assessments of cognition and ADL, showed significant benefits for donepezil compared with galantamine in this direct comparative trial. Both treatments were well tolerated, with more gastrointestinal AEs reported for galantamine vs donepezil.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Donepezil
  • Female
  • Galantamine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Indans / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nootropic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Indans
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Piperidines
  • Galantamine
  • Donepezil