Pharmacists "shouldn’t get excited" about the pharmacy-only nutritional supplement Souvenaid, which claims to boost memory in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Society has warned.
The charity raised questions about the once-a-day nutritional drink, launched on January 14, which was found to improve episodic memory in clinical trials. The combination of nutrients in Souvenaid – including omega-3 fatty acids, uridine and B vitamins – could slow the loss of synapses in the nervous system, which is connected to memory problems in Alzheimer’s patients, said manufacturer Nutricia.
But, while the Alzheimer’s Society agreed the product showed some benefits for memory, it argued there was no evidence Souvenaid affected other aspects of thinking or everyday life and was a lot less effective than existing drugs for the treatment of early dementia.
"For many older people with dementia, where finances might be tight, people are much better off putting their money towards good quality care or taking part in exercise," said Alzheimer’s Society director of research Professor Clive Ballard.
Nutricia stressed Souvenaid was not intended as a replacement for exercise or prescribed medication, but a clinically proven option that should be discussed with healthcare professionals.
"We’ve taken this to 1,700 healthcare professionals and been overwhelmed by the reaction – so far pharmacists have engaged with this very positively," said Nutricia public and strategic affairs director Natasha Bye.
Gareth Jones, pharmacy manager at Murrays Pharmacy in Barrow-in- Furness, said Souvenaid was a "breakthrough for patients." Pharmacists must complete training and an online assessment before they can be accredited to stock Souvenaid.
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