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Researchers Find Drug Can Curb Delusions in Dementia and Alzheimer's Patients

SAN DIEGO (CBS Local) -- A drug used to reduce delusions among Parkinson's patients has the same benefit for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, researchers announced this week.

Trial results were disclosed Wednesday at an Alzheimer's conference in San Diego, the Associated Press reports.

Pimavanserin, a daily pill sold under the brand name Nuplazid by Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc., was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2016 for Parkinson's-related psychosis. It is believed to block a brain chemical that seems to promote delusions.

The study, which included 392 people with dementia-related psychosis, was stopped early after the benefit became clear. It is not known whether the FDA would want more evidence to approve a new use.

If regulators concur, the drug could become the first treatment specifically for dementia-related psychosis.

"This would be a very important advance," Dr. Howard Fillit, chief science officer of the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, told AP.

Around 8 million people in the United States are living with dementia and studies suggest that approximately 30 percent of dementia patients, or 2.4 million people, have psychosis.

Pimavanserin targets delusions and hallucinations associated with dementia-related psychosis that often lead to anxiety, aggression, and physical and verbal abuse.

"It's terrifying," said Dr. Jeffrey Cummings of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. "You believe that people might be trying to hurt you. You believe that people are stealing from you. You believe that your spouse is unfaithful to you. Those are the three most common false beliefs."

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