Medically reviewed on January 8, 2018
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 donepezil 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?
donepezil 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)
Donepezil dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Alzheimer's Disease:
Initial dose: 5 mg orally once a day, in the evening prior to retiring
Mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease:
-Maintenance dose: 10 mg orally once a day, after the patient has been on an initial dose of 5 mg once a day for 4 to 6 weeks
Moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease:
-Maintenance dose: 23 mg orally once a day, after the patient has been on a dose of 10 mg once a day for at least 3 months
Comments: A higher dose of 10 mg may or may not provide a statistically significantly greater clinical benefit than a 5 mg dose. Prescriber and patient's preference should be considered.
Uses: For mild, moderate, and severe Alzheimer's type dementia
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.
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.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.01.
More about donepezil
- Donepezil Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Patient Tips
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Support Group
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 59 Reviews
- Drug class: cholinesterase inhibitors
- Donepezil 23 mg Tablets
- Donepezil Orally Disintegrating Tablets
- Donepezil Tablets
- Donepezil (Advanced Reading)