Alzheimer's disease: an overview for the pharmacist

J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash). 1997 May-Jun;NS37(3):347-52. doi: 10.1016/s1086-5802(16)30205-4.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) occurs more frequently in women, with an incidence greater than expected from longevity alone--a finding possibly related to reduced estrogen levels. The epidemiology, societal costs, clinical presentation, pathophysiology, etiology, and treatment of AD are reviewed. At present, only two drugs, tacrine and donepezil, are approved for treatment of AD. These drugs enhance central cholinergic activity by inhibiting cholinesterase. The goal of current drug development research is to halt progress of AD, and efforts are underway to discover ways to restore neuronal activity via neurotrophins and to prevent neuronal loss. Pharmacists are well positioned to assist AD patients (in the early stages) and caregivers by encouraging early intervention and by presenting realistic expectations about the disease and its treatment. A number of easily accessible resources for health care providers and consumers are presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Donepezil
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indans / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Nootropic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Pharmacists*
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use
  • Tacrine / therapeutic use


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