1 March 2002. The European Union's Committee of Proprietary Medicinal Products
(CPMP) has recently recommended that the EU approve memantine
for the treatment of moderately severe to severe Alzheimer's disease. Memantine
is believed to be effective in protecting the cholinergic neurons that are destroyed
in Alzheimer's disease.
Memantine is a derivative of the familiar anti influenza drug amantadine. It
is currently available only in Germany, where it is used to treat Parkinson's
disease and to speed the recovery of comatose patients, as well as to treat
dementia. The use of memantine for Alzheimer's is based on the theory that excessive
activation of N methyl D aspartate (NMDA) receptors may underlie the degeneration
of cholinergic cells, leading to cognitive, social, and motor deficits. Memantine,
a fast, voltage-dependent NMDA receptor antagonist, blocks the NMDA receptor
in the presence of sustained release of low glutamate concentrations and thus
attenuates NMDA receptor function.
A .pdf version
of the CPMP opinion can be downloaded from the European Agency for the Evaluation
of Medicinal Products.-Hakon Heimer.