HI-Eisai Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Eisai in the Philippines, has obtained approval for a new indication Aricept (donepezil hydrochloride) to treat dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).

DLB is a degenerative form of dementia discovered in Japan that is pathologically characterised by decreased neurons in the brain and brainstem and the appearance of vast numbers of Lewy bodies.

It is believed that DLB is difficult to be diagnosed because the disease is characterised by symptoms such as cognitive fluctuations, visual hallucinations and Parkinsonism in addition to progressive cognitive impairment.

DLB is considered to be one of the major types of dementia worldwide, alongside Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

"The anti-Alzheimer’s agent Aricept can now be used to treat DLB in the Philippines, in addition to Japan."

The anti-Alzheimer’s agent Aricept can now be used to treat DLB in the Philippines, in addition to Japan.

Aricept was first approved in Japan in September 2014 to treat DLB.

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Nearly 400,000 people in the Philippines are affected by dementia, the company said.

Earlier in 1999, Aricept was initially launched as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in the Philippines.

Later, the medication obtained approval to treat vascular dementia, and for other formulations including orally disintegrating tablets.

Developed by Eisai and Pfizer, Aricept acts as a centrally acting reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor.

The application was submitted in November 2015 to seek approval for DLB in the Philippines and is based on the clinical trial data from Japan. It was subsequently approved in February this year.

Additionally, a similar application is currently undergoing regulatory review in Thailand.