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Safety and efficacy of donepezil in children and adolescents with autism: neuropsychological measures.

Author(s): Handen BL, Johnson CR, McAuliffe-Bellin S, Murray PJ, Hardan AY

Affiliation(s): Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh , Pittsburgh, PA 15203, USA. handenbl@upmc.edu

Publication date & source: 2011-02, J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol., 21(1):43-50.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

OBJECTIVE: There has been recent interest in the use of cognitive enhancing drugs, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, as a possible treatment for executive functioning (EF) deficits in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of this study was to assess the tolerability, safety, and efficacy of donepezil on EF in a sample of children and adolescents with ASD. METHOD: Thirty-four children and adolescents with ASD (age range 8-17 years; IQ >75) were enrolled in a 10-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of donepezil (doses of 5 and 10 mg), followed by a 10-week open label trial for placebo nonresponders. RESULTS: The effect of donepezil treatment on EF was examined. Despite improvement on a number of EF measures, no statistically significant between-group differences were found (with gains observed for both the placebo and donepezil groups). CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that short-term treatment with donepezil may have limited impact on cognitive functioning in ASD. Future controlled trials may need to consider a longer treatment period to detect significant gains on EF measures.

Page last updated: 2011-12-09

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