Exiba / Namenda and Alzheimer's - Memantine Drug Treatment
Memantine (brand names Ebixa or Namenda) is one of the newest drugs on the market and the only one to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s certainly not a cure and there really is no hard clinical evidence to show that it can either halt or reverse the damage caused by Alzheimer’s. But some people have reported a positive effect, claiming the drug has delayed the progression of symptoms for up to 12 months.
It acts entirely differently from the other popularly prescribed drugs for Alzheimer’s such as Exelon or Aricept which belong to a group called acetycholinestrase inhibitors and are aimed at treating mild to moderate stages of the illness. And because it works differently doctors sometimes prescribe it in combination with the others for maximum benefit.
What is the Drug Namenda and how does it treat Alzheimer's?
Memantine / Namenda is known as a N-methyl D aspirate (NMDA) antagonist which targets a neurotransmitter in the brain known as glutamate. Neurotransmitters transport messages from one brain cell to another. Each of these cells has neuroreceptors responsible for receiving glutamate. Glutamate plays a vital role in learning and memory but when there is too much of it in the brain it sticks to the neuroreceptors, allowing deposits of calcium to travel into the brain cells and kill them off. Memantime works by preventing excess glutamate from sticking to the neuroreceptors so stopping harmful calcium deposits destroying brain cells.
When someone has Alzheimer’s Disease, glutamate is found in very high levels in the brain.
As with any drug, Ebixa affects different people in different ways. Some people may not benefit from it at all. Others may find that although their condition doesn’t improve with the drug it doesn’t worsen either (which it would normally be expected to do).
In those patients who benefit from taking Memantine there may be a general overall improvement in memory and recognition and also daily living skills. They may be able to use the toilet independently, get dressed themselves and remember simple daily routines.
Like any other drug, it can have adverse side effects - a small number of patients who take it can experience vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea, dizziness, headaches and tiredness. These effects tend to disappear the longer the drug is taken.
The use of memantine has become the subject of much debate in Britain. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), which produces guidelines for drug use, has pronounced that memantime is not a cost effective treatment for Alzheimer’s. The organisation believes that there isn’t enough benefit to the majority to warrant its cost (about the same per patient per day as a cup of cappuccino in a London café).