GENERIC NAME: donepezil
BRAND NAME: Aricept, Aricept ODT
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Donepezil is an oral medication used to treat Alzheimer's disease. It belongs to a class of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors that also includes tacrine (Cognex). Scientists believe that Alzheimer's disease may result from a deficiency in chemicals (neurotransmitters) used by nerves in the brain to communicate with one another. Donepezil inhibits acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme responsible for the destruction of one neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. This leads to increased concentrations of acetylcholine in the brain, and the increased concentrations are believed to be responsible for the improvement seen during treatment with donepezil. Donepezil improves the symptoms but does not slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Donepezil was approved by the FDA in 1996.
SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects associated with donepezil are:
- generalized pain,
- loss of appetite,
- weight loss,
- muscle cramping,
- joint pain,
- insomnia, and
- increased frequency of urination.
Quick GuideDementia Pictures Slideshow: Disorders of the Brain
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