Medicines for Alzheimer disease, February 2016

Page last updated: 8 July 2016

Drug utilisation sub-committee (DUSC)

February 2016



To review the utilisation of medicines for the treatment of Alzheimer disease 24 months after changes to their Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) restrictions arising from the Post‑Market Review of Anti-dementia drugs. The changes were implemented on 1 May 2013.

Date of listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)

The three acetylcholinesterase inhibitors - donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine - were first listed on the PBS in 2001. Memantine was listed in 2008. The changes from the post‑market review were implemented on 1 May 2013. The main change was a broadening of the eligibility criteria for patients to continue treatment.

Data Source / methodology

The analysis used PBS prescription claims data from the Department of Human Services (DHS). The analysis used data from January 2003 to September 2015. The analysis relates mainly to the utilisation of these medicines from January 2009 to September 2015.

Key Findings

  • The number of patients supplied medicines to treat Alzheimer disease has increased. In 2009, 43,619 patients were supplied an anti-dementia medicine. In 2014, 52,012 patients were supplied an anti-dementia medicine, and of these 13,745 patients were new to treatment.
  • Donepezil is the market leader and its utilisation continues to grow.
  • Approximately 70% of people who start an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and 64% of people who start memantine treatment continue treatment beyond 6 months. Continuation rates before and after the changes to the PBS restrictions are similar. 
  • In 2014, the Australian Government spent $31,771,611 subsidising anti-dementia medicines. The annual cost to Government of subsidising these medicines has almost halved since 2012 due to price reductions arising from the post‑market review, generic competition and price disclosure.

Full Report