Insights into globalization: comparison of patient characteristics and disease progression among geographic regions in a multinational Alzheimer's disease clinical program

Alzheimers Res Ther. 2018 Nov 24;10(1):116. doi: 10.1186/s13195-018-0443-2.


Background: Globalization of clinical trials has important consequences for trial planning and interpretation. This study investigated heterogeneity in patient characteristics and outcomes among world regions in the global idalopirdine Phase 3 clinical program.

Methods: Data were pooled from three 24-week randomized controlled trials in patients aged ≥ 50 years with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD) (n = 2506). Patients received idalopirdine (10, 30, or 60 mg/day) or placebo, added to cholinesterase inhibitor treatment. Patients were categorized into the following regions: Eastern Europe/Turkey (n = 759), Western Europe/Israel (n = 709), USA/Canada (n = 444), South America/Mexico (n = 361), Asia (n = 134), and Australia/South Africa (n = 99). For each region, operational characteristics, baseline demographic and clinical characteristics, adverse events, and mean change from baseline to week 24 in clinical rating scale scores (placebo group only) were summarized using descriptive statistics.

Results: Completion rates were 0.86-0.90 in all regions. Heterogeneity among global regions was evident. Protocol deviations were twice as common in South America/Mexico as in USA/Canada (2.64 vs 1.35 per patient screened). Educational level ranged from 9.2 years in South America/Mexico to 13.4 years in USA/Canada. APOE ε4 carriage was 80.6% in Australia/South Africa, 63.1% in Western Europe/Israel, and < 60% in other regions. Screening Mini-Mental State Examination scores were higher in Eastern Europe/Turkey (18.0) and USA/Canada (17.5) than in other regions (16.9-17.1). Baseline AD Assessment Scale-Cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog) scores ranged from 24.3 in USA/Canada to 27.2 in South America/Mexico. Baseline AD Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living, 23-item version (ADCS-ADL23) scores ranged from 58.5 in USA/Canada to 53.5 in Eastern Europe/Turkey. In the placebo group, adverse events were 1.6-1.7 times more common in Western Europe/Israel, USA/Canada, and Australia/South Africa than in Eastern Europe/Turkey. On the ADAS-Cog, Australia/South Africa and Western Europe/Israel showed the most worsening among patients receiving placebo (1.56 and 1.40 points, respectively), whereas South America/Mexico showed an improvement (-0.71 points). All regions worsened on the ADCS-ADL23, from -3.21 points in Western Europe/Israel to -0.59 points in Eastern Europe/Turkey.

Conclusions: Regional heterogeneity-in terms of study conduct, patient characteristics, and outcomes-exists, and should be accounted for, when planning and conducting multinational AD clinical trials.

Trial registration:, NCT01955161 . Registered on 27 September 2013., NCT02006641 . Registered on 5 December 2013., NCT02006654 . Registered on 5 December 2013.

Keywords: Activities of daily living; Alzheimer’s disease; Clinical trial; Cognitive decline; Cognitive dysfunction; Dementia; Disease progression; Globalization; Humans; Patient selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Benzylamines / therapeutic use
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Disease Progression*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indoles / therapeutic use
  • Internationality*
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • South America / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • (2-(6-fluoro-1H-indol-3-yl)-ethyl)-(3-(2,2,3,3-tetrafluoropropoxy)benzyl)amine
  • Benzylamines
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Indoles

Associated data