Prescribing Alzheimer's disease drugs

Learn about the process of having Alzheimer's disease drugs prescribed by specialists in dementia care.

How are these drugs prescribed?

The drugs listed above should only be prescribed to a person who has been diagnosed with certain types of dementia (see ‘Are these drugs effective for other types of dementia?’). For more information about diagnosis of dementia see Assessment and diagnosis.

NICE guidance also states that a person can only start using these drugs with a prescription from a specialist in dementia care. A specialist will often be a consultant old-age psychiatrist, geriatrician or neurologist. But it could also be a GP or nurse prescriber with expertise in dementia care. (In some parts of the country the consultant might write to the GP or nurse prescriber to ask them to start prescribing the drugs.)

Symptoms and diagnosis

Find information on some common symptoms of dementia and ways to manage them, the process of getting an assessment, and what to do after a diagnosis.

Learn more

What happens after the person has started the drugs?

Once the person has started on the drugs and is on the right dose for them (see ‘Taking the drugs’), the specialist will usually ask the GP to take over prescribing them. The person should then have regular reviews of how well their medication is working, with either a specialist at the memory clinic or the GP. (When the consultant and primary care share responsibility for prescribing like this, it is sometimes called shared care prescribing.)

When deciding to start or continue drug treatment, the doctor should not rely only on scores from mental ability tests to assess how severe someone’s dementia has become. Instead, the assessment should be based on a broader view of the person’s condition. This should include their mental abilities, behaviour and ability to cope with daily life. It should also not be based on one single thing changing – such as the person’s mental ability test score going below a certain number, or because they have gone into a care home. The doctor should ask the person (or their carer) for their views at the start of drug treatment and at check-ups.

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