Last updated on February 2018

Cholinesterase Inhibitor Discontinuation


Brief description of study

This study tries to determine if stopping certain medications that are used to treat dementia will cause worsening from the patient and family perspective.

All of the participants will take pills that look identical, and that may contain active drug or an inactive pill (a placebo). Half of the group will receive the same treatment they were taking before the study -- this is called the "sham discontinuation" arm. The other half will receive a reduced dose of their medication, and then an inactive pill (placebo) -- this is called the "real discontinuation" arm.

Participants will be able to return to their previous dose of medication at any time during the study. The percentage of people who return will be measured and compared. Other medical events and factors such as behaviors, thinking, and caregiver distress, will be measured and compared between the groups.

Detailed Study Description

There are no reliable findings from controlled trials about discontinuation of cholinesterase inhibitors from a patient and family perspective. It is unknown at what point these medications do not have effects, and how they can safely be discontinued.

The investigators will identify Veterans who have been taking a cholinesterase inhibitor (CI) (donepezil or galantamine) for at least one year. After informed consent, the investigators will randomize them to Real Taper (half-dose of the CI they had taken for 3 weeks, then placebo for 3 weeks), or Sham Taper (continued full dose of the CI they had taken for 6 weeks). The pills will be blinded by over-encapsulating of the drug or placebo.

An intake interview will ascertain history and measure behaviors, cognitive symptoms, and mood, as well as caregiver burden. Phone calls will assess treatment use and adverse events at week 2 and week 4. An exit interview at week 6 will measure the same variables as at baseline. Participants will be unblinded at that point so they will know which treatment had been used. A follow-up call at 12 weeks will ascertain ongoing treatment and any further adverse events.

At any point in the study, participants and caregivers will be able to return to their pre-study dose of medication.

The primary outcome is the percentage of participants who successfully complete a 6-week discontinuation. This will be compared between arms. Other outcomes related to medical events (e.g. hospitalizations, falls), symptoms (e.g. cognition, behaviors), and caregiver distress will be measured and compared.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02248636

Contact Investigators or Research Sites near you

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Megan Dunay, MD

Boise VA Medical Center, Boise, ID
Boise, ID United States
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Lauren Moo, MD

Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, MA
Bedford, MA United States
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Stephen M Thielke, MD

VA Puget Sound Health Care System Seattle Division, Seattle, WA
Seattle, WA United States
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