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Dementia and Legal Issues
Posted: Sunday, April 3, 2022 12:43 AM
Joined: 3/28/2021
Posts: 34

I want to discuss a couple of legal issues related to dementia.


There have been some studies that show a link between benzodiazepines and dementia.

I call your attention to the following study:

According to this study, a person who takes a benzodiazepine for more than 6 months
is at a much higher risk of dementia than a person who does not take
benzodiazepines at all. And, among all benzodiazepines, Diazepam poses the highest
risk for dementia.

The following report further confirms the link between benzodiazepines and dementia:

Do these studies show that benzodiazepines *cause* dementia? Or do these studies show that there is a *correlation* between benzodiazepines and dementia?

Has anyone ever filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of benzodiazepines, alleging that benzodiazepines cause dementia? If yes, how did that lawsuit work out?


My mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia in March 2021. At that point, her dementia was already severe. She entered memory care very shortly after being
diagnosed, and she has been in memory care since then.

I believe that my mother should have been diagnosed with dementia in 2018. Some
doctors who treated my mother in 2018, should have diagnosed her with dementia in
2018 and instead dropped the ball.

I believe that, if my mother had been diagnosed with dementia in 2018 (when her
dementia was far less severe) and if she had started taking certain dementia
treatments (Aricept, Alpha GPC, Korean Red Ginseng herbs, Lion's Mane
mushrooms, photobiomodulation, and/or aromatherapy) at that time, then her dementia could have been slowed down significantly, and her need for memory care could have been
postponed for years (or perhaps for the rest of her life).

Clinical trials show the effectiveness of all of these treatments except aromatherapy. Aromatherapy's effectiveness is supported by anecdotal evidence.

I have sent inquiries to some law firms about suing these doctors for medical malpractice. So far, no law firm has agreed to take the case.

One lawyer who looked at the merits of the case and declined the case, said the following: There is very strong evidence that these doctors dropped the ball and should have diagnosed my mother in 2018. However, to prevail in a malpractice lawsuit, I would have to prove that, if my mother had been diagnosed in 2018, then some dementia treatment available in 2018 would have given her some kind of benefit. The evidence showing the effectiveness of Aricept, Alpha GPC, etc., is not that strong. One thing that is problematic is that most of these treatments have not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of dementia. The lack of FDA approval does not mean that I would automatically lose the case. However, the lack of FDA approval would make winning the case difficult.

Another lawyer also believes that the evidence showing the effectiveness of these
treatments is not that strong. This lawyer said that the doctors would win the case
simply by buying some experts from Harvard University who would say that these
treatments are useless. She actually used the word "buy".

So, how can I convince a lawyer to take the case? How can I convince a lawyer, a judge, and a jury about the effectiveness of these treatments?   



Lane Simonian
Posted: Monday, April 4, 2022 10:05 AM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 5158

Benzodiazepine use and/or withdrawal likely can contribute to dementia, but there may not be enough proof yet to sue the manufacturers.  Also, since there are many causes of dementia it may be difficult to show that there was one primary cause.

All of the treatments that you mentioned can either slow down the progression of dementia or largely stabilize it over a long period of time.  The problem is that in most cases the clinical trials involved small numbers of participants and were not placebo controlled.  A doctor (or some other expert) could say we either did not know about many of these treatment or that there was not sufficient or conclusive evidence to prescribe these medicines.  I personally believe that the cumulative evidence does support many of these treatments, but to convince a judge or a jury that this is the case would likely be difficult.  

I hope that you will receive additional responses.