- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: donepezil
Brand Names: Aricept, Aricept ODT
Drug Class: Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors, Central
What is donepezil, and what is it used for?
Donepezil is an oral medication used to treat mild, moderate, or severe dementia associated with 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.
What are the side effects of donepezil?
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.
Other important side effects include:
What is the dosage for donepezil?
Donepezil is generally taken once daily at night prior to retiring. Its absorption is not affected by food so that it may be taken with or without food. Mild to moderate disease is treated with 5 or 10 mg once daily. Moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease is treated with 10 or 23 mg daily.
Which drugs interact with donepezil?
Drugs with anti-cholinergic properties that can cross into the brain, such as atropine, benztropine (Cogentin), and trihexyphenidyl (Artane) counteract the effects of donepezil and should be avoided during therapy with donepezil.
Donepezil is metabolized (eliminated) by enzymes in the liver. The rate of metabolism of donepezil may be increased by medications that increase the amounts of these enzymes, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), dexamethasone (Decadron), phenobarbital, phenytoin (Dilantin), and rifampin (Rifadin). By increasing elimination, these drugs may reduce the effects of donepezil.
Ketoconazole (Nizoral) has been shown to block the enzymes in the liver that metabolize donepezil. Therefore, concurrent use of ketoconazole and donepezil may result in increased concentrations of donepezil in the body and possibly lead to donepezil side effects. Quinidine (Quinidex, Quinaglute) also has been shown to inhibit the enzymes that metabolize donepezil and may cause donepezil side effects.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It is not known whether donepezil is harmful to the fetus. Safe use during pregnancy has not been established.
Donepezil (Aricept) is a medication prescribed for the treatment of mild, moderate, or severe dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
The Stages of Dementia: Alzheimer's Disease and Aging Brains
What are the symptoms of dementia? What causes dementia? Dementia includes many disorders, such as Lewy Body dementia,...
Parkinson's Disease Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Parkinson's disease is common among neurodegenerative disorders. Do you know how it works? The causes? The symptoms? Take the...
Alzheimers Disease Quiz: Stages, Symptoms & Signs
Take the Alzheimer's Quiz to discover some of the mysteries behind this cognitive disorder. Learn causes, symptoms, treatments,...
Related Disease Conditions
Dementia is defined as a significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. There are several different types of dementia, including cortical, subcortical, progressive, primary, and secondary dementias. Other conditions and medication reactions can also cause dementia. Dementia is diagnosed based on a certain set of criteria. Treatment for dementia is generally focused on the symptoms of the disease.
Parkinson's disease is a slowly progressive neurological disease characterized by a fixed inexpressive face, a tremor at rest, slowing of voluntary movements, a gait with short accelerating steps, peculiar posture and muscle weakness, caused by degeneration of an area of the brain called the basal ganglia, and by low production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Most patients are over 50, but at least 10 percent are under 40.
Alzheimer's disease is a common cause of dementia. Symptoms and warning signs of Alzheimer's disease include memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, disorientation to time and place, misplacing things, and more. The biggest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is increased age. Treatment for Alzheimer's is often targeted toward decreasing the symptoms and progression of the disease.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Parkinsons Disease FAQs
- Alzheimers Disease FAQs
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) Symptoms and Prognosis
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
- Drugs: Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist about Your Drugs
- Drug Interactions
- Cholinesterase Inhibitors (Side Effects, Uses, Interactions)
- Types of Multiple Sclerosis Medications and Treatments
- Exelon (rivastigmine, Exelon Patch)
- Side Effects of Aricept (donepezil)
- galantamine (Razadyne, Razadyne ER)
- tacrine, (Cognex - discontinued in the U.S.)
Prevention & Wellness
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.