Marinol Found Promising in Treatment of Geriatric Patients with Alzheimer's
"Marinol was associated with weight increase as well as a decrease in negative feelings and in the severity of disturbed behavior in geriatric patients with Alzheimer's," said Dr. Ladislav Volicer, professor of pharmacology and psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and medical director of the Dementia Study Unit, E. N. Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, Mass. Further studies for this potential indication are required before applications can be submitted to health authorities in major countries.
Alzheimer's disease, associated with progressive loss of memory and learned behavior, is estimated to affect 10 percent of the 32.3 million U.S. adults who are age 65 and older, with the percentage rising with age. According to Dr. Volicer, geriatric patients with Alzheimer's often may refuse food as a result of anorexia, depression or memory loss.
In the study conducted at E. N. Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, 12 patients at least 65 years old who were hospitalized with probable Alzheimer's disease and refusing food were given 12 weeks of treatment, six with Marinol alternated with six weeks of a placebo. The researchers found that while patients' weights increased during both periods, the increase was significantly greater during treatment with Marinol.
In addition, Marinol was found to significantly decrease negative feelings, while positive feelings remained unchanged. Researchers also reported that the severity of disturbed behavior declined during both Marinol treatment periods and persisted during the placebo period after therapy.
"These results demonstrate that dronabinol (Marinol) may be useful both for treatment of anorexia and to improve disturbed behavior and negative mood in geriatric patients with Alzheimer's," Dr. Volicer concluded.
Marinol is widely prescribed for anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients, and also has been linked in studies with improvement in mood. Alzheimer's disease is estimated to affect as many as four million Americans, with 400,000 newly diagnosed each year.
Dronabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)) was developed by Unimed Pharmaceuticals. The product is marketed under the trade name Marinol for treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients. It was associated with increased food intake when used in studies as anti-nausea therapy in cancer patients, and later studies in AIDS patients linked Marinol with improvement in appetite, body weight and mood and a decrease in nausea.
"We are pleased that Marinol appears to offer potential for yet another illness where therapies are urgently needed," said Stephen M. Simes, president and chief executive officer of Unimed Pharmaceuticals.
Unimed Pharmaceuticals develops and markets niche pharmaceutical products for AIDS, endocrinology, urology and other therapeutic areas. The company also is growing through in-licensing niche marketed and late-stage development products.
SOURCE Unimed Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
/CONTACT: Stephen M. Simes, 847-541-2525, or Suzanne Corr, 847-382-7404, both of Unimed Pharmaceuticals, Inc./
CO: Unimed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ST: District of Columbia, Illinois IN: MTC SU:
LA-TC -- CLTU029 -- 4035 11/19/96 13:46 EST http://www.prnewswire.com