Drug prescription in mild cognitive impairment: the physicians' perspective in Italy




Today there are no data on the type of drugs prescribed to MCI patients nor the prevalence of their prescription. The aim of this study was to describe which drugs were prescribed in 2004 for cognitive and non cognitive disturbances of patients with MCI in a sizable group of Italian expert centers for the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.


Eighty-eight of the 314 contacted UVAs (28%) agreed to take part to the present study. The physicians were surveyed with a structured questionnaire assessing questions related to prescription of drug therapy based on their subjective judgement.


Cholinesterase inhibitors are prescribed to 90% of patients with AD but, interestingly, to about one in four patients with MCI (27%). Gingko and nootropics are prescribed infrequently, but in MCI two to three times more often than in AD. About one in four (27%) and one in ten (9%) MCI patient are prescribed SSRIs and benzodiazepines, a proportion similar to that of AD (28% and 10%), while atypical and traditional neuroleptics are virtually never used in MCI patients. Vitamin E is prescribed to more than half of MCI (57%) and in about half as many AD patients (27%).


These data suggest that lacking approved or clearly effective drugs for cognitive symptoms, physicians respond with ‘analogy treatments’ and by increasing the prescription of ‘accessory drugs’. Non cognitive symptoms in MCI are managed virtually exclusively with SSRIs and benzodiazepines. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.