OBJECTIVE: To assess the long-term health and economic impact of treating mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD) with galantamine (16 mg or 24 mg per day) compared to no cholinesterase therapy in the UK. METHODS: The long-term costs and outcomes were assessed using a model developed from longitudinal data on a cohort of AD patients. The model predicts the time until patients require full-time care, defined as the consistent requirement for a significant amount of care and supervision each day. Efficacy data were obtained from three clinical trials comparing galantamine with placebo, forecasts were made for ten years. Costs were determined in 2001 British pounds and discounted at 6% per annum, while outcomes such as time to full-time care were discounted at 1.5%. RESULTS: Without pharmacological treatment, patients are expected to incur costs of 28,134 British pounds over ten years, 70% of costs accrue from providing full-time care. Galantamine (16 mg per day) is predicted to reduce the duration of the full-time care state by 12%; approximately five patients need to be treated to avoid one year of full-time care. The ten-year incremental costs per month of full-time care avoided average pound 192 British pounds per patient and 8,693 British pounds per QALY. Savings (1380 British pounds) are predicted for patients who continue treatment beyond six months and whose cognitive function is maintained or improved. Comparable results were estimated for the 24 mg dose. CONCLUSION: In addition to the clinical benefits associated with galantamine treatment, the savings predicted from delaying when full-time care is needed may offset the treatment costs.
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