Alzheimer's Drug Therapy Initiative

Providing eligible B.C. residents with PharmaCare coverage of medications used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and gathering evidence on their effectiveness.

This initiative is the result of collaboration between the Government of British Columbia, the Alzheimer Society of B.C., the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria’s Centre on Aging, drug manufacturers, clinical experts, researchers and practising clinicians.

Introduction

The Alzheimer’s Drug Therapy Initiative (ADTI) was created to address the lack of clinical evidence to support PharmaCare coverage of cholinesterase inhibitors and allow individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease to access these medications without the restrictive cost.


Through the ADTI, individuals in the mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease are now eligible to receive PharmaCare coverage of these medications. Patients’ cognitive abilities are reassessed every six months to ensure they continue to benefit from treatment. PharmaCare is monitoring the changes over time and, based on demographic information provided by physicians, is building a profile of individuals who show benefit.

Additional research projects are also underway that assess the impact of changing or stopping medication in individuals who show no clear response to treatment. Caregivers are being interviewed to examine how these medications affect the lives of families and to determine what caregivers see as the most significant changes this treatment makes.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting almost 40,000 British Columbians.

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging - it is a progressive degenerative disease for which there is no known cause or cure. Brain cells shrink and are replaced by dense, irregularly-shaped spots called plaques. Threadlike tangles also develop within healthy brain cells, and eventually destroy them.

A group of drugs known as cholinesterase inhibitors has been developed that appears to slow the progression of this disease. There is growing evidence that these medications may improve or stabilize the cognitive, functional and behavioural abilities of some patients in the mild to moderate stages of the disease.

Additional evidence is needed to determine who could benefit from treatment with these medications and what impact that may have on both patients and caregivers. This information will help in developing future government policy on how best to care for individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Over 25,000 British Columbians are in the mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The ADTI is working to provide the additional clinical evidence needed to support PharmaCare funding of cholinesterase inhibitors for individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

The Research:

Information provided on the ADTI’s Special Authority forms is used anonymously in several studies that examine the changes in the impact on health services when people are treated with these medications and monitors patients’ cognitive and overall response.

Participation is encouraged for the following research studies:

  • The Seniors’ Medication Study looks at the effects of treatment decisions on patients who show no clear response to the medications;
  • The Caregiver Study examines the benefits and drawbacks that caregivers notice when caring for someone being treated with these medications.

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