What is donepezil?
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.
Donepezil is used to treat mild to moderate dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease.
Donepezil is not a cure for Alzheimer's disease. This condition will progress over time, even in people who take donepezil.
Donepezil may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to donepezil or certain other drugs. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medicines.
To make sure donepezil is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
a heart rhythm disorder;
a history of stomach ulcers;
an enlarged prostate or urination problems;
liver or kidney disease;
epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
trouble swallowing; or
It is not known whether donepezil will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.
It is not known whether donepezil passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
How should I take donepezil?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
You may take donepezil with or without food.
Do not crush, chew, or break the regular tablet. Swallow it whole.
To take the orally disintegrating tablet (Aricept ODT):
Keep the tablet in its blister pack until you are ready to take it. Open the package and peel or cut the backing from the tablet blister. Do not push a tablet through the backing or you may damage the tablet.
Use dry hands to remove the tablet and place it in your mouth.
Do not swallow the tablet whole. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth without chewing.
Swallow several times as the tablet dissolves. After the tablet dissolves completely, drink a glass of water.
If you need surgery or dental work, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using donepezil. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.
You should not stop using donepezil without your doctor's advice.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
If you miss your doses for more than 7 days in a row, call your doctor before taking the medicine again.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Overdose symptoms may include severe nausea, vomiting, drooling, sweating, blurred vision, feeling light-headed, slow heartbeat, shallow breathing, muscle weakness, fainting, or seizure (convulsions).
What should I avoid while taking donepezil?
This medicine may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Donepezil side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using donepezil and call your doctor at once if you have:
severe or ongoing vomiting;
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
painful or difficult urination;
new or worsening breathing problems; or
Common side effects may include:
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
loss of appetite;
sleep problems (insomnia); or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect donepezil?
Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with donepezil, especially:
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with donepezil, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
More about Aricept (donepezil)
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Support Group
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 23 Reviews – Add your own review/rating
- Generic Availability
- Drug class: cholinesterase inhibitors
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about donepezil.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.01.
Last reviewed: January 07, 2015
Date modified: February 01, 2018