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What is this medication?

Donepezil, Aricept
Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitor

Donepezil/Aricept is officially indicated for Alzheimer disease, but it may also be prescribed off-label for other forms of dementia such as Lewy body, vascular, and Parkinson associated (may also be used for conditions not listed)

How does this medication work? 

Donepezil/Aricept reversibly and noncompetitively inhibits centrally acting acetylcholinesterase which is the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine via hydrolysis.  This increases synaptic levels of acetylcholine for central nervous system transmission.  Alzheimer’s disease results in cholinergic deficiencies in the cortex and basal forebrain which results in cognitive deficits, so increasing acetylcholine counters this.

How should I take this medication? 

Oral: 2.5-20mg once daily

How to Take: Follow instructions provided by physician/pharmacy label, take consistently at same times each day, usually at bedtime, without regard to food, store at room temperature

What should I watch for while using this medication? 

Before starting Donepezil/Aricept make sure your physician is aware of any allergies or medications you currently take, if you have peptic ulcer disease, respiratory disease, a seizure disorder, a urinary tract obstruction, are pregnant, or breastfeeding

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of medication, try to take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, take only that scheduled dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

How should I store this medication?

Keep out of the reach of children at all times. Store at room temperature, 59 to 86° F (15 to 30° C). Protect from light. Keep the container tightly closed. Properly dispose of any unused medication after the expiration date.

What are the possible side effects of using this medication?

Diarrhea, nausea, insomnia, accidental injury, bruising, anorexia, weight loss, dizziness, fatigue

Note this is not a complete list of side effects, only common ones.  May cause QT prolongation, so be careful if mixing with other QT prolonging agents to minimize risk of severe arrythmia.  May also rarely cause neuroleptic malignant syndrome.