Transdermal physostigmine in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease

A. Levy*, R. Brandeis, T. A. Treves, Y. Meshulam, F. Mawassi, D. Feiler, A. Wengier, P. Glikfeld, J. Grunwald, S. Dachir, J. M. Rabey, D. Levy, A. D. Korczyn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physostigmine has been reported to improve the memory function of some patients with Alzheimer's Disease (AD). However, the drug has a short half-life and a narrow therapeutic window. To overcome these impediments, we developed a continuous transdermal delivery system and tested it for 2 weeks in 12 AD inpatients, using a single-blind design. No major adverse effects were recorded in any of the patients. Physostigmine plasma concentrations were relatively stable (0.56 ± 0.10 ng/ml) and correlated well with blood acetylcholinesterase inhibition. Six of the 12 patients reported improved vigilance and concentration, and also had higher scores in all four neuropsychological tests employed (Mini Mental State examination, Short Mental Test [SMT], Wechsler's Memory Scale [WMS], and Buschke's Selective Reminding Test). The performance of two additional patients improved in only two tests (SMT and WMS). Transdermal delivery of physostigmine appears to be safe and may be useful for the treatment of a subset of AD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalAlzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Cholinergic drugs
  • Clinical trial
  • Controlled release
  • Memory enhancement


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