In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for donepezil, trade name AriceptTM.

What it’s for & How to take

Donepezil is used to help treat confusion and dementia with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s happens when nerve cells in the brain die. Nerves get tangled and messages slow or stop.

Medications for Alzheimer’s disease focus on two main areas. The first type of medication increases the level of chemicals that send messages in the brain. The second type of medication slows the nerve death.

Neither of these two treatments cures Alzheimer’s. They may help improve memory, awareness, and possibly make it easier to do daily chores.

Donepezil helps increase the chemicals in the brain that are used to send messages.

Donepezil is usually taken with or without food, once daily, at bedtime. If for some reason you can’t sleep, call your doctor and talk about taking it in the morning. Your doctor may slowly increase your dose of donepezil over a couple of months as your body gets used to the effects.

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.

Warnings & Cautions

  • If you miss your dose of donepezil for a week or more, talk with your doctor before you start taking it again. You may need to start at a lower dose to limit the side effects.
  • If you have an uneven heartbeat, severe stomach pain or trouble urinating, call your health care provider as soon as possible.
  • Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Limit alcoholic beverages while taking donepezil.
  • Donepezil should only be used during pregnancy when clearly needed. If you are taking donepezil and think you might be pregnant, tell your doctor. It is unknown if donepezil crosses into breast milk. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before breastfeeding if you are taking this medication.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if donepezil is safe for you to take.
  • Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
  • Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any breathing problems, fainting, heart disease, stomach problems, seizures, or difficulty urinating.
  • You may feel some nausea, loss of appetite, dizziness, shakiness or maybe some muscle cramps while your body is getting used to the donepezil. These side effects usually go away after 3 weeks. If these, or any other side effects persist, call your pharmacist or doctor to discuss it with them.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20