|Type of medicine||Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor|
|Used for||Treating the symptoms of dementia in Alzheimer's disease|
|Available as||Tablets and orodispersible (melt in the mouth) tablets|
Donepezil is used to treat mild to moderate symptoms of dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Donepezil cannot cure dementia or Alzheimer's disease but it can slow down the progression of dementia and can help to ease the symptoms.
Donepezil works by increasing the amount of a natural chemical called acetylcholine in the brain, which is known to be lower in people suffering from dementia in Alzheimer's disease.
Before taking donepezil
Before taking donepezil make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have liver problems.
- If you have lung problems such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (also known as COPD).
- If you have ever had a stomach ulcer.
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal or complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
How to take donepezil
- Before beginning treatment, you or your caregiver should read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet.
- Always take donepezil exactly as directed by your doctor. Unless you have been told otherwise, take your dose just before bedtime. It can be taken with or without food.
- If you have been given the tablets that disperse (melt) in the mouth (Aricept Evess®), place the tablet on your tongue and allow it to disintegrate before you swallow it. You may find it helps to swallow it with a drink of water.
- It may take several weeks before donepezil appears to take effect.
- If you forget to take a dose, do not worry, just take your dose on the following day at the usual time. Do not take more than one dose a day to make up for a missed dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Do not drive unless you have been told it is safe to do so by your doctor.
- If you are having any treatment like an operation or dental treatment, it is important that you tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking donepezil. This is because it may affect the amount of anaesthetic you need.
- Keep your regular doctor's appointment so your progress can be checked.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with donepezil.
Can donepezil cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, all medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this|
|Feeling or being sick, loss of appetite||Eat little and often. Stick to simple foods|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids|
|Tiredness, dizziness, feeling faint, falling||Try getting up or moving more slowly. If you begin to feel faint, sit or lie down until the feeling passes|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headache continues, speak with your doctor|
|Difficulty sleeping, feeling agitated or aggresive, muscle cramp, hallucinations (seeing or hearing things not really there), rash, itching, and urine incontinence||If any of these are troublesome, speak with your doctor|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store donepezil
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 59th Edition (March 2010) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Aricept®; Manufacturer's PIL, Aricept®, Eisai Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2009, accessed March 2010.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Aricept Evess®; Manufacturer's PIL, Aricept Evess®, Eisai Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2009, accessed March 2010.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen|
|Last Checked: 21/10/2010||Document ID: 3389 Version: 22||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.