Background: Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRDs) are increasingly recognized as important causes of impaired cognition, function, and quality of life, as well as excess medical care utilization and costs in the elderly Medicare managed care population. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for ADRDs were published in 2001. More recent studies have resulted in the approval of new agents and demonstrated an expanded role for antidementia therapy in various types of dementia, settings of care, stages of disease, and the use of combination therapy. However, these clinical guidelines have not been updated in the past few years.
Objective: The goal of this article was to provide practical recommendations developed by a panel of experts that address issues of early diagnosis, treatment, and care management of ADRDs. The panel also addressed the societal and managed care implications.
Methods: A panel of leading experts was convened to develop consensus recommendations for the treatment and management of dementia based on currently available evidence and the panel's informed expert opinion. The panel comprised 12 leading experts, including clinical investigators and practitioners in geriatric medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and psychology; managed care medical and pharmacy directors; a health systems medical director; and a health policy expert. In addition, articles were collected based on PubMed searches (2000-2005) that were relevant to the key issues identified. Search terms included Alzheimer's disease, dementia, clinical practice guidelines, clinical trials, screening and assessment, and managed care.
Results: ADRDs represent a significant clinical and economic burden to individuals and society, including Medicare managed care organizations (MCOs). Appropriate utilization of antidementia therapy and care management is vitally important to achieving quality of life and care for dementia patients and their caregivers, and for managing the excess costs of Alzheimer's disease. The recommendations address relevant, practical, and timely concerns that are faced on a daily basis by practitioners and by Medicare MCO medical management programs in the care of dementia patients. These consensus recommendations attempt to describe a reasonable current standard for the provision of quality care for patients with dementia. The panel recommendations support the use of screening for cognitive impairment and the use of antidementia therapy for ADRDs in different stages of disease and types of dementia in all clinical settings. The panel members evaluated the use of the 3 marketed cholinesterase inhibitors-donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine-as well as the N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist memantine. Recommendations for using these medications are made with an appreciation of the difficulties in translating the results from investigational clinical trials into clinical practice.
Conclusions: The recommendations of the expert panel represent a clear consensus that nihilism in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of ADRDs is unwarranted, impairs quality of care, and is ultimately not costeffective.