What is Aricept&Reg;?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2019
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Aricept® is a medication that increases the concentration of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain. This drug, known generically as donepezil, may be part of a treatment plan for Alzheimer's disease. While Aricept® cannot cure or reverse Alzheimer's, it can slow the progression of the disease and may help patients retain cognitive skills longer. A doctor may prescribe this drug as part of combination therapy with other medications to increase the chances of managing the patient's condition successfully.

Patients on Aricept® will not necessarily experience improvements in cognitive function, but they may notice a slowing in the progression of their symptoms. It will be easier to retain and recall memories, and symptoms like confusion may not progress as rapidly. Regulators accept the use of Aricept® for severe Alzheimer's disease, and in some regions, doctors may recommend it for mild to moderate forms of the disease in their patients.

Common Aricept® side effects include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain, along with muscle cramps and weight loss. Drowsiness and dizziness can also be problems for some people on the drug. Patients may have difficulty sleeping or experience strange dreams. Allergic reactions to the drug, resulting in hives, difficulty breathing, and rashes can also occur as a side effect of Aricept®. If patients develop signs of an allergy, they should discontinue the drug and consult a physician.


When a doctor prescribes Aricept®, the dosage usually starts low and gradually increases as the patient responds to the medication. The patient takes a single pill at the same time each day, usually before bed, to keep concentrations of the medication in the body even. The drug easily crosses the blood-brain barrier, making it highly effective, and patients should start to notice an improvement within a few weeks of starting the drug. If symptoms grow worse, it may be necessary to adjust the dosage.

This drug is part of a class of medications used to manage Alzheimer's disease, focusing on slowing the progression to allow patients more independence after diagnosis. While on this medication, the patient will need regular evaluations from a neurologist to check on cognition and brain function. The doctor can determine how well the patient is responding to the medication and may make recommendations for lifestyle adjustment as the disease progresses. Research with the goal of finding cures and preventative treatments so brain degeneration does not begin in the first place is also a part of research and development for Alzheimer's treatment.



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