Arthritis medicine could help with dementia, too

Results of an ongoing study suggest that certain rheumatoid arthritis drugs may lower cases of Alzheimer’s and related dementias in people with cardiovascular disease.

While the findings released in April don’t support broad use of such drugs for treating dementia, they may be promising for specific groups of people at risk for developing the disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a medical research agency that’s part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Researchers analyzed Medicare claims from more than 22,000 people, looking at whether those with rheumatoid arthritis who took one of three classes of arthritis drugs were protected from dementia. There were notable associations with lowered dementia risk among the people who have cardiovascular disease and were treated with arthritis drugs called TNF inhibitors.

The DREAM (Drug Repurposing for Effective Alzheimer’s Medicines) study is led by scientists at NIH’s National Institute on Aging in collaboration with researchers at Harvard Medical School, Rutgers University, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The study previously identified U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs that are being tested as treatments for Alzheimer’s and related dementias.