Medicines for Lewy Body Dementia

March 17, 2014
Alzheimer's and dementia

Learning about medications for Lewy body dementia is important.

As those who have experience with Lewy body dementia know, there are a number of treatments currently available to help with impaired cognitive function. Patients and caregivers often ponder which is the appropriate treatment option to take; in the long run, that’s an individual decision that should be arrived at between the patient, the caregiver, and the doctor.

Here is a little information about some of the drug options for Lewy body dementia patients who are seeking to stem or slow cognitive function deterioration.


Rivastigmine (often known by the brand name Exelon) was not approved for use in treating Lewy body dementia, but many doctors prescribe it “off label” for individuals with Lewy body dementia. This is not unusual in treating Lewy body issues; there are no FDA-approved medications for dementia associated with Lewy bodies. Because Rivastigmine was effective in clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease-related dementia, Lewy body patients are often assumed to be good candidates for it. Rivastigmine can be taken in either pill form or as a skin patch. Side effects are less often associated with the patch than with the pill.


Donepezil (often known by its brand name Aricept) is another option. A clinical trial involving 140 Lewy body dementia patients indicated that this drug can help improve cognitive function in some patients with Lewy body dementia. Donepezil is a pill with a long half-life, which means that it needs to be taken only once a day.


Galantamine (brand name Razadyne) was studied in Lewy body patients via a 24-week, open-label study involving 50 patients. The study indicated that overall there was improved cognitive function, as well as an improvement in hallucination and sleep issues. Galantamine is taken in pill form.

All drugs react in different ways with different individuals: what produces a great effect in one patient may do little or nothing in another, and a drug that has significant side effects in Patient A may prove perfectly acceptable for Patient B.

What is important is to know about the options available to Lewy body dementia patients and to have a frank, informed discussion with a doctor about the best treatment to pursue. Make sure that you ask about any potential side effects or dangers and that the doctor knows of all medications (even over-the-counter ones) taken by the patient; some drugs do not interact well with others.

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Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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