Condition category
Mental and Behavioural Disorders
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Prospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Dementia is a common condition in the aging population. People with dementia have difficulties with mental processes such as memory, language, reasoning and identifying people and objects, which become progressively worst over time. There are a range of different types of dementia, but the most common is Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Agitation and aggression are common in people who suffer from dementia and can cause problems for the patients, families and the people caring for them. In many cases, agitation is persistent, with many still showing symptoms after six months. There are medicines available to treat agitation, but it is not clear which treatments work best for people with dementia. Current treatments include antipsychotic medication, but these only have limited positive effects and can cause harm. Non-drug treatments are recommended in the first instance, but there is a need for medicines to be available, if non-drug treatments fail. The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of two drugs, mirtazapine (a type of antidepressant) and carbamazepine (an anticonvulsant, which is used to control seizures), in the management of agitation in people with dementia.

Who can participate?
Adults with dementia who are also displaying agitated behaviours, and their carers (family or paid carer)

What does the study involve?
Participants are randomly allocated to one of three groups. The study is designed so that the participant, their carer, their doctors and the research team do not know which they are taking until the end. Those in the first group are given mirtazapine, those in the second group are given carbamazepine, and those in the third group are given a placebo (dummy pill). All tablets are made in such a way that they look the same, although it is possible to find out which medicine is being taken, in the event of a medical emergency. In all groups, participants are asked to take one tablet for the first two weeks of treatment in the trial, two tablets in the next two weeks and three tablets for the remaining eight weeks of the treatment period (unless there are concerns about side effects resulting from them taking the medication). A blood and ECG (test to check the heart rhythm) test are taken before medication is given and after treatment stops, at 12 weeks. Participants will continue to receive care from their doctors and other health and social services in the usual way whilst they are taking part in the study, and are carefully monitored throughout. Participants and their carers complete a number of questionnaires at the start of the study and then after six and 12 weeks to measure agitation and quality of life. There is a long term follow up phone call, six months and one year after trial medication is first taken.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Benefits can’t be promised, but participation may lead to improved treatments for people with similar symptoms in future. It is however possible that participants may benefit from lower levels of agitation as a result of taking the medication in this study, and improved quality of life for them and their carers. Disadvantages include that the trial will take up time. Blood tests are being taken for participant safety but may cause some discomfort and/or inconvenience. The medicines do have side effects but most are mild and resolve on their own. These may include: stomach upset, weight gain, feeling drowsy, dizzy, headaches and more rarely a rash and blood problems. A full summary is provided to participants and side effects are carefully monitored by the trial team.

Where is the study run from?
Eight NHS trusts across the UK

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
December 2015 to October 2019

Who is funding the study?
National Institute for Health Research (UK)

Who is the main contact?
1. Miss Juliet High (public)
2. Professor Sube Banerjee (scientific)

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Miss Juliet High


Contact details

Norwich Clinical Trials Unit
Norwich Medical School
University of East Anglia
Norwich Research Park
United Kingdom
+44 1603 591708



Additional contact

Prof Sube Banerjee


Contact details

Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Centre for Dementia Studies
University of Sussex
United Kingdom
+44 1273 678472

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

A pragmatic, multi-centre, double-blind, placebo controlled randomised trial to assess the safety, clinical and cost effectiveness of mirtazapine or carbamazepine in patients with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and agitated behaviours


Study hypothesis

The aim of this study is to assess the safety, clinical and cost effectiveness of mirtazapine or carbamazepine in the management of agitation and/or aggression in people with dementia.

Ethics approval

Committee: South Central – Hampshire A, 04/11/2015, ref: 15/SC/0606

Study design

Randomised; Interventional; Design type: Treatment, Drug

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting

Not specified

Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Specialty: Dementias and neurodegeneration, Primary sub-specialty: Dementia; UKCRC code/ Disease: Neurological/ Other disorders of the nervous system


Patients will be randomised in a 1:1:1 ratio to mirtazapine, carbamazepine or placebo, stratified by study region and independent living using permuted block randomisation via a web-based system.

Mirtazapine is a generic 15mg tablet, over encapsulated. Carbamazepine is specifically Tegretol Extended Release 100mg tablet, over encapsulated. IMP and placebo will be identically encapsulated (15mg tablets for mirtazapine and 100mg tablets for carbamazepine) to produce capsules.

Mirtazapine group: Participants receive 15mg starting dose increasing to 30mg after 2 weeks and up to 45 mg in total.

Carbamazepine group: Participants receive 100mg starting dose increasing to 200mg after 2 weeks and up to 300mg in total.

Placebo group: Participants receive 1 capsule starting dose increasing to 2 capsules after 2 weeks and up to 3 capsules in total.

IMP or placebo will be taken for 12 weeks in total. Patients/their carers will be contacted by phone 4 weeks after they stop taking IMP to ask how they are feeling and record any adverse events (AEs). Long term follow up will be at 26 and 52 weeks.

Intervention type



Phase III

Drug names

1. Mirtazapine
2. Carbamazepine

Primary outcome measure

Agitation is measured using the Cohen Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) long version, at baseline and 12 weeks.

Secondary outcome measures

1. Cost effectiveness is assessed using a modified Client Service Receipt Inventory (CSRI), alongside information from DEMQOL and EQ-5D-5L interviews at baseline, 6 and 12 weeks
2. Agitation is measured using the CMAI score at 6 weeks (in addition to the primary outcome measure, as a secondary outcome measure)
3. Patient and carer quality of life is assessed via the Zarit carer burden, GHQ-12 and EQ-5D questionnaires at baseline, 6 and 12 weeks
4. Safety is assessed by looking at adverse events and adherence at 6 and 12 weeks. Adverse events are measured by face to face visits, follow up phone calls, review of medical records, notification by other health care professionals, blood and ECG test results and collection of a diary card which is completed by the patient/carer. Adherence is assessed by tablet counts, follow up phone calls and review of a diary card which is completed by the patient/carer, at week 2, 4, 6 and 12.

Long term follow up takes place at 26 and 52 weeks and is assessed via a phone call:
1. Agitation is measured using CMAI
2. Institutionalisation is assessed using a study specific questionnaire
3. Mortality is measured using a study specific questionnaire
4. Clinical management is assessed using a study specific questionnaire

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Aged 18 years and over
2. Clinical diagnosis of probable or possible Alzheimer’s Disease using National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke and the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association (NINCDS/ADRDA) criteria
3. A diagnosis of co-existing agitated behaviours
4. Evidence that the agitated behaviours have not responded to management according to the AS/DH algorithm
5. If receiving cholinesterase inhibitors or memantine, must be on a stable dose (defined as three months on current dose)
6. A Cohen Mansfield Agitation Inventory score of 45 or greater
7. Written informed consent to enter and be randomised into the trial or consultee agreement for those without capacity
8. Availability of a suitable informant (consenting identifiable family carer or paid carer) to provide information on carer-completed outcome measures and who consents to take part in the trial

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants

Planned Sample Size: 471; UK Sample Size: 471

Participant exclusion criteria

1. Current treatment with antidepressants (including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)), anticonvulsants, antipsychotics. Patients must have completed treatment with these medications at least two weeks before trial drug administration
2. Contraindications to the administration of carbamazepine and mirtazapine as per their current SmPCs
3. Patients with atrioventricular block, a history of bone marrow depression or history of hepatic porphyrias
4. Cases too critical for randomisation (ie where there is a suicide risk or where the patient presents a risk of harm to others)
5. Female subjects under the age of 55 of childbearing potential, defined as follows: postmenopausal females who have not had at least 12 months of spontaneous amenorrhea or 6 months of spontaneous amenorrhoea with serum FSH>40mIU/ml or females who have not had a hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy at least 6 weeks prior to enrolment

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Grove House Southview Road
United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
Hellesdon Hospital Drayton High Road
United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Gateshead Health Foundation Trust
Clinical Trials Office Cheviot View Queen Elizabeth Hospital Queen Elizabeth Avenue Sheriff Hill
United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust
Greater Manchester Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust West Road Off North Road (Between Children’s and Adults A&E Departments)
M13 9WL
United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust and Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust
St. Pancras Hospital 4 St. Pancras Way
United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
Barberry Centre 25 Vincent Drive
B15 2FG
United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
Guys and St Thomas Hospital Great Maze Pond
United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Research and Development Department Abraham Cowley Unit St Peter’s Hospital Guildford Road
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Sussex

Sponsor details

C/O Nigel Knight
Head of Contracts and IP
Falmer House
United Kingdom

Sponsor type

Hospital/treatment centre



Funder type


Funder name

National Institute for Health Research

Alternative name(s)


Funding Body Type

government organisation

Funding Body Subtype

Federal/National Government


United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

1. The dissemination plan will include facilitating the translation of findings of the research into practice. The plan will be developed during the trial, but the audience will include clinicians, people with dementia and their carers, other health care professionals and policy makers. All participants will have the option to request a copy of the results, all outputs will be tailored in style and content to the intended audience.
2. The data will be published in high impact, peer reviewed journals and open access to the papers will be enabled. Minimum publications will include; the trial protocol, a primary paper for publication of the results, a secondary clinical outcome paper, secondary economic evaluation paper, HTA publication of the final report and publication of the long term follow up data.
3. There will also be presentations at conferences and seminars, both locally, nationally and internationally.

Intention to publish date


Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

14/08/2018: The following changes have been made to the trial record: 1. The recruitment end date has been changed from 31/07/2018 to 31/12/2018 2. South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust has been removed as a trial participating centre 3. The plain English summary has been updated to reflect the removed study site