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Aricept Donepezil

Aricept Donepezil

What is Aricept?

Aricept (donepezil) improves the function of nerve cells in the brain. It works by preventing the breakdown of a chemical called acetylcholine (ah SEET il KOE leen). People with dementia usually have lower levels of this chemical, which is important for the processes of memory, thinking, and reasoning.

Aricept is used to treat mild to moderate dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease.

Aricept is not a cure for Alzheimer's disease. This condition will progress over time, even in people who take donepezil.

What is donepezil used for?

Donepezil only slows the worsening of Alzheimer's disease, rather than being a cure. As a result, your doctor will want to re-assess the patient after they have been taking the medicine for two to four months at the maintenance dose. If there has been no improvement in their symptoms, or they continue to deteriorate, your doctor may decide it is not worth continuing donepezil. For patients who continue treatment, the benefit of the medicine should be reassessed on a regular basis. Donepezil should be stopped when it no longer has a beneficial effect.

How do you take donepezil?

Treatment with donepezil is usually started with one 5mg tablet taken once daily at bedtime. After four weeks your doctor may decide to increase the dose to one 10mg tablet daily at bedtime. Follow the instructions given by your doctor. For people who can't swallow tablets, donepezil can be prescribed as tablets that melt in the mouth, or as a liquid.

  • Donepezil can be taken either with or without food.
  • Donepezil film-coated tablets should be swallowed whole with a drink of water.
  • Orodispersible donepezil tablets (eg Aricept Evess) should be placed on the tongue, where they disintegrate in the saliva and can then be swallowed either with or without a drink of water.
  • If you forget to take a dose a bedtime you should just leave out that dose and take your next dose as usual the following bedtime. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.
  • If you forget to take your medicine for more than one week, contact your doctor before taking any more medicine.

How does donepezil work?

Donepezil hydrochloride is a type of medicine called an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. It works by slowing the breakdown of a neurotransmitter in the brain called acetylcholine.

Neurotransmitters are stored in nerve cells in the brain and nervous system, and are involved in transmitting messages between the nerve cells. They are necessary for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Acetylcholine in the brain is continually being released by nerve cells and then broken down by another natural chemical called acetylcholinesterase.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Slow heart rate and fainting
  • Stomach ulcers and bleeding, symptoms can include:
  • heartburn
  • stomach pain that won’t go away
  • nausea or vomiting
  • blood in your vomit, or dark-colored vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • bowel movements that look like black tar
  • Worsening of lung problems in people with asthma or other lung diseases
  • Seizures
  • Trouble urinating


The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

For oral dosage forms (oral disintegrating tablets, oral solution, and tablets):

For mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease:

Adults—5 milligrams (mg) taken at bedtime. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose usually is not more than 10 mg per day.

Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

For moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease:

Adults—10 milligrams (mg) taken at bedtime. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose usually is not more than 23 mg per day.

Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

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