• Alzheimer's disease;
  • behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD);
  • caregivers;
  • donepezil hydrochloride


Background:  To investigate the efficacy and safety of donepezil hydrochloride (Aricept®; Eisai Co., Ltd, Tokyo, Japan), we conducted a post-marketing survey in Japanese patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) who also had behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), such as hallucinations/delusions, wandering, and aggression, which cause the greatest burden on caregivers.

Methods:  A prospective, centrally registered investigation was conducted through regular clinical settings with patients diagnosed as mild to moderate AD presenting with hallucinations/delusions, wandering, and/or aggression. The treatment period was 12 weeks and no restrictions were placed on concomitant medications.

Results:  The BPSD improvement rates at last-observation-carried-forward (LOCF) were 60.1% for hallucinations/delusions, 59.6% for wandering, and 65.6% for aggression. For all symptoms, improvement rates increased with the duration of the treatment period. The BPSD deterioration rates at LOCF were 1.3% for hallucinations/delusions, 3.4% for wandering, and 1.6% for aggression. Assessment of cognitive function with both the revised Hasegawa Dementia Scale (HDS-R) and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) indicated significant improvements after treatment. There were significant differences in the changes in HDS-R scores between patients whose hallucinations/delusions or wandering were improved and patients whose symptoms were not improved. Moreover, the data suggested a possible correlation between changes in hallucinations/delusions and HDS-R scores, changes in hallucinations/delusions and MMSE scores, and changes in wandering and MMSE scores. Patients in whom BPSD improved also demonstrated a greater improvement in cognitive function compared with patients in whom no improvement in BPSD was noted. Nursing burden on caregivers at LOCF showed 3.6% for ‘No burden’, 54.1% for ‘Burden decreased’, and 4.5% for ‘Burden increased.’ There was an increase in the combined ratio of ‘No burden’ and ‘Burden decreased’ in proportion with prolonged treatment period. Patients with improved BPSD had a significantly greater ratio (88.5–94.4%) of ‘No burden’ plus ‘Burden decreased’ than those patients in whom no improvement in BPSD was noted.

Conclusions:  These results suggest that donepezil not only improves the cognitive dysfunction of AD patients, but may also relieve BPSD in these patients. Treatment with donepezil was also found to alleviate the burden of caregivers for approximately 60% of patients. Moreover, the results indicate that donepezil is unlikely to trigger potential risks of excessive deterioration of BPSD, which would result in a heavier burden of nursing care.