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What are the current medications for Alzheimer's disease?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Feb 23, 2024.

Melody L. Berg


As someone who has served as a caretaker for a family member with Alzheimer's disease, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to see a loved one affected by the disease as it worsens over time.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term used to describe a group of symptoms (like the loss of thinking, remembering, or reasoning) that interfere with a person's daily life. With Alzheimer's disease, dementia symptoms gradually worsen over time. There are medications available that may help manage the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, but currently, there are no medications that cure Alzheimer's disease.

Current medications for Alzheimer's disease

Several medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Alzheimer's disease symptoms. These medications have been found in some patients to slow the worsening of symptoms temporarily and may improve their quality of life. The medications come in several delivery methods—patches worn on the skin, tablets that dissolve in the mouth, medications given into a vein, or capsules or tablets that are swallowed.

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors, including donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), and galantamine (Razadyne), are most often prescribed for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease symptoms. They work by preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine, which is a chemical messenger important for memory and learning.
  • Glutamate regulators, including memantine (Namenda), work by regulating glutamate which, is a chemical messenger that helps the brain process information is prescribed to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease.
  • Monoclonal antibodies, including lecanemab-irmb (Leqembi), target and remove amyloid plaques in the brain. Donanemab is also showing good results, but has not yet been approved.

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New therapeutic options on the horizon

There is a lot of promising research in the area of Alzheimer's disease. The monoclonal antibody, donanemab, has also shown promise and has moved into a phase 3 clinical trial before it is considered for approval by the FDA. Researchers are also looking at medications that reduce inflammation in the brain, and a number of studies are looking at the connection between heart health and brain health.


There are currently several medications to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Some of these medications may be used in combination to increase the management of symptoms. Your pharmacist is an excellent resource for information about medications for Alzheimer's disease symptoms. In addition, new research brings hope that there will soon be additional effective medications to treat Alzheimer's disease.

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AHFS® Patient Medication Information is used with permission. ©2024, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. (ASHP). The ASHP Data is a part of the AHFS Drug Information®️; ASHP is not responsible for the accuracy of transpositions from the original context.