Background: Cholinergic deficits are prominent in patients who have dementia associated with Parkinson's disease. We investigated the effects of the dual cholinesterase inhibitor rivastigmine in such patients.
Methods: Patients in whom mild-to-moderate dementia developed at least 2 years after they received a clinical diagnosis of Parkinson's disease were randomly assigned to receive placebo or 3 to 12 mg of rivastigmine per day for 24 weeks. Primary efficacy variables were the scores for the cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog) and Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study-Clinician's Global Impression of Change (ADCS-CGIC). Secondary clinical outcomes were the scores for the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living, the 10-item Neuropsychiatric Inventory, the Mini-Mental State Examination, Cognitive Drug Research power of attention tests, the Verbal Fluency test, and the Ten Point Clock-Drawing test.
Results: A total of 541 patients were enrolled, and 410 completed the study. The outcomes were better among patients treated with rivastigmine than among those who received placebo; however, the differences between these two groups were moderate and similar to those reported in trials of rivastigmine for Alzheimer's disease. Rivastigmine-treated patients had a mean improvement of 2.1 points in the score for the 70-point ADAS-cog, from a baseline score of 23.8, as compared with a 0.7-point worsening in the placebo group, from a baseline score of 24.3 (P<0.001). Clinically meaningful improvements in the scores for the ADCS-CGIC were observed in 19.8 percent of patients in the rivastigmine group and 14.5 percent of those in the placebo group, and clinically meaningful worsening was observed in 13.0 percent and 23.1 percent, respectively (mean score at 24 weeks, 3.8 and 4.3, respectively; P=0.007). Significantly better outcomes were seen with rivastigmine with respect to all secondary efficacy variables. The most frequent adverse events were nausea (affecting 29.0 percent of patients in the rivastigmine group and 11.2 percent of those in the placebo group, P<0.001), vomiting (16.6 and 1.7 percent, P<0.001), and tremor (10.2 and 3.9 percent, P=0.01).
Conclusions: In this placebo-controlled study, rivastigmine was associated with moderate improvements in dementia associated with Parkinson's disease but also with higher rates of nausea, vomiting, and tremor.
Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society.