Compounding AD Medications: Better Care for Alzheimer’s Patients
Anyone who has ever lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s and seen them slip away understands the hardship that the disease can wreak on the lives of entire families. As pharmaceutical professionals, we have the power to help make this tragic set of circumstances just a little easier and more comfortable for these patients and their families. Compounding AD medications for Alzheimer’s patients using high-quality products can provide some very compelling advantages for these treatment regimens.
Treatment Needs of Alzheimer’s Patients
Alzheimer’s patients have a wide range of treatment needs. Obviously the main set of issues demanding treatment in these patients concerns dementia, including memory loss, confusion about place and time, difficulties with language, mood swings, and similar personality changes. But these patients also often need treatment for incontinence, dental problems, and constipation, as well as additional health problems like high blood pressure. Forgotten medications can lead to worsened symptoms, repeated doses, or even overdose. For all of these reasons, treating these patients is a complex process that benefits most from individualized treatment.
Doctors prescribe for Alzheimer’s based on their assessment of disease stages: mild, moderate, and severe. They often base their assessments on how patients score on tests of awareness of time and place, memory, and thinking and reasoning. But they often also prescribe outside of typically recommended stages and outside of FDA-approved guidelines, as Alzheimer’s progresses differently in each patient.
Two different types of drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. These are cholinesterase inhibitors, which boost levels of available acetylcholine in the brain, such as donepezil and galantamine. Also there is memantine, a glutamate regulator. Because these types of drugs work in two different ways, they are often prescribed simultaneously in a variety of dosages.
Common side effects from cholinesterase inhibitors can include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, so these often present further problems for treatment. Common side effects from memantine can include agitation and confusion — both already a problem for patients who may be confused about their surroundings or identity — dizziness, and headache, also possibly needing treatment.
Vitamin E is often prescribed to treat the cognitive problems caused by Alzheimer’s. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, a substance that can protect tissues like brain cells from some types of chemical wear and tear.
Compounding for Alzheimer’s Patients Improves Outcomes
There are several reasons why compounding AD medications is helpful for Alzheimer’s patients. First, when compliance with medications is an issue and patients are easily agitated and perhaps even aggressive, it is very useful to have non-invasive, easy-to-administer medications. Pleasant-tasting troches or topical treatments that can simply be massaged into the skin by caregivers make dispensing medication far easier than giving pills.
Second, because nausea is such a common problem for these patients, a novel delivery method is extremely useful. Medications that are rejected by the stomach are not helpful to the patient and make their care that much more difficult. Many Alzheimer’s drugs are available in transdermal form, in patches or creams, lozenges, or even candy.
Perhaps most compelling, Alzheimer’s patients are very likely to require a combination of drugs in a particular set of doses. Compounding AD medications allows doctors to prescribe exactly what the patient needs, in exactly the right amount. For example, one patient might need donepezil, memantine, vitamin E, anti-anxiety medication, and anti-nausea medication, while another requires memantine, high blood pressure medication, and something to relieve agitation. The first patient might benefit most from a vitamin E-enriched cream containing their specific medications, while the second patient might do best with a troche containing their prescribed medications. In both cases the individuals are receiving the drugs right into their bloodstreams and bypassing the digestive system, providing more medical benefit and less harm and discomfort to the body.
Making a Difference to Patients and Families
Compounding AD medications for Alzheimer’s patients provides a flexible, individualized treatment option for patients and families who are living with a devastating illness. Fortunately, we have the ability to make their treatment as effective and easy to manage as possible. With the help of a trusted compounding supplier, give your patients the most effective options available to them.
Pharmaceutica North America would like to be your resource for compounding products for Alzheimer’s medications. If you don’t currently compound and would like to start, or if you need a great supplier of wholesale compounding materials, please contact our very knowledgeable and friendly team here at PNA.