Donepezil, Galantamine, Rivastigmine and Memantine for the Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease (TA217)

Technology Appraisal Guidance No. 217

Source: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Note: This guidance replaces NICE technology appraisal guidance 111 issued in November 2006 (amended September 2007, August 2009).

The review and re-appraisal of donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine and memantine for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease has resulted in a change in the guidance. Specifically:

  • donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine are now recommended as options for managing mild as well as moderate Alzheimer’s disease, and
  • memantine is now recommended as an option for managing moderate Alzheimer’s disease for people who cannot take AChE inhibitors, and as an option for managing severe Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Guidance

1.1 The three acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine are recommended as options for managing mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease under all of the conditions specified in 1.3 and 1.4.

1.2 Memantine is recommended as an option for managing Alzheimer’s disease for people with:

  • moderate Alzheimer’s disease who are intolerant of or have a contraindication to AChE inhibitors or
  • severe Alzheimer’s disease.

Treatment should be under the conditions specified in 1.3.

1.3 Treatment should be under the following conditions:

  • This recommendation has been updated and replaced by recommendation 1.6.2.3 in the NICE guideline on dementia.
  • Treatment should be continued only when it is considered to be having a worthwhile effect on cognitive, global, functional or behavioural symptoms.
  • This recommendation has been updated and replaced by recommendation 1.6.2.3 in the NICE guideline on dementia.

1.4 If prescribing an AChE inhibitor (donepezil, galantamine or rivastigmine), treatment should normally be started with the drug with the lowest acquisition cost (taking into account required daily dose and the price per dose once shared care has started). However, an alternative AChE inhibitor could be prescribed if it is considered appropriate when taking into account adverse event profile, expectations about adherence, medical comorbidity, possibility of drug interactions and dosing profiles.

1.5 When using assessment scales to determine the severity of Alzheimer’s disease, healthcare professionals should take into account any physical, sensory or learning disabilities, or communication difficulties that could affect the results and make any adjustments they consider appropriate. Healthcare professionals should also be mindful of the need to secure equality of access to treatment for patients from different ethnic groups, in particular those from different cultural backgrounds.

1.6 When assessing the severity of Alzheimer’s disease and the need for treatment, healthcare professionals should not rely solely on cognition scores in circumstances in which it would be inappropriate to do so. These include:

  • if the cognition score is not, or is not by itself, a clinically appropriate tool for assessing the severity of that patient’s dementia because of the patient’s learning difficulties or other disabilities (for example, sensory impairments), linguistic or other communication difficulties or level of education or
  • if it is not possible to apply the tool in a language in which the patient is sufficiently fluent for it to be appropriate for assessing the severity of dementia or
  • if there are other similar reasons why using a cognition score, or the score alone, would be inappropriate for assessing the severity of dementia.

In such cases healthcare professionals should determine the need for initiation or continuation of treatment by using another appropriate method of assessment.


The guidance shown above constitutes Section 1 of the full document. A copy of the full document and a summary of the evidence is available on the Internet at http://guidance.nice.org.uk/TA217

This guidance represents the view of the Institute which was arrived at after careful consideration of the available evidence. Health professionals are expected to fully take it into account when exercising their clinical judgement. This guidance does not, however, override the individual responsibility of health professionals to make appropriate decisions in the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer.

© Copyright National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved. This material may be freely reproduced for educational and not for profit purposes within the NHS. No reproduction by or for commercial organisations is permitted without the express written permission of the Institute.

Enquiries concerning the guidance should be addressed to: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, MidCity Place, 71 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NA. email: nice@nice.org.uk

Donepezil, Galantamine, Rivastigmine and Memantine for the Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue Date: March 2011 (updated May 2016)


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