Dementia is a broad term for a group of symptoms including difficulties with memory, language, problem-solving, and other thinking skills. There are many causes of dementia, but the most common cause is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), making up about 60-80% of cases. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans are living with AD in 2022. AD is a type of disease caused by damage to nerve cells in the brain. Unfortunately, it is irreversible and the nerve cells first damaged in AD are those responsible for memory, language, and thinking. Because of this, the first symptoms people with AD experience are usually related to memory, language, and thinking problems. These symptoms can become life-changing for those living with dementia and their families. While many efforts are currently underway to improve and find new treatments for AD, we still do not have a cure and most treatments are aimed at reducing symptoms or possibly slowing the progression of the disease.
Also see our blog on What You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s
As you might imagine, a disease that causes memory problems may lead to difficulties remembering to take medications. Thus, a medication delivery system, such as a patch, would be very useful for AD.
Adlarity (Donepezil) Patch
Donepezil is a medication used to treat dementia related to AD. It has been in use as an oral medication since the 1990s. Donepezil can help with the symptoms of AD dementia, like improving memory, awareness, and the ability to function. However, it is not a cure for AD. Donepezil is part of a class of medications called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. It works by stopping the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is a chemical in the brain that tends to be lower in the brains of people with AD. Therefore, by blocking the breakdown of this chemical that is already scarce, donepezil increases the amount of acetylcholine and helps restore the natural balance in the brain.
In Mid-March 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Adlarity. Adlarity is a once-weekly patch containing donepezil for the treatment of AD dementia and was developed by a company called Corium. It is placed on the patient’s back, thigh, or buttocks once a week. The patch delivers either 5 or 10mg of donepezil daily for 7 days, which is the same dosage used in daily oral formulations. Adlarity also is said to bypass the digestive system, which decreases the likelihood of gastrointestinal adverse effects of the medication like with oral donepezil. The development of the Adlarity patch is a big step and extremely helpful for those suffering from AD dementia who might forget to take their medications or have difficulty swallowing.
Some of the side effects associated with Adlarity include headache, skin irritation at patch site, pain at the site of the patch, insomnia, constipation, diarrhea, or dizziness. These side effects are similar to the oral version of the medication donepezil, except for those directly related to the patch placement.
Adlarity is not expected to become available until the Fall of 2022, but it is a good option to keep in mind if you or a loved-one struggle with AD dementia symptoms. Talk with your healthcare provider if you are interested in Adlarity as a treatment option.