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All about: donepezil

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Generic Name: donepezil (oral) (doh NEP e zil)
Brand Names: Aricept, Aricept ODT

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 see til KO 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 may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about donepezil?

Before taking donepezil, tell your doctor if you have a heart rhythm disorder such as "sick sinus syndrome" (slow heartbeats), an enlarged prostate, urination problems, asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, or a seizure disorder such as epilepsy.

If you need to have any type of surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are taking donepezil.

Donepezil can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking donepezil?

Do not take this medication if you are allergic to donepezil.

Before taking donepezil, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • a heart rhythm disorder such as "sick sinus syndrome" (slow heartbeats);

  • a history of stomach ulcers;

  • an enlarged prostate or urination problems;

  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder; or

  • asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to use donepezil, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether donepezil passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take donepezil?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

If you need to have any type of surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are taking donepezil. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

Donepezil can be taken with or without food or milk.

Take the donepezil regular tablets with a full glass of water.

To take donepezil orally disintegrating tablet (Aricept ODT):

  • Keep the tablet in its blister pack until you are ready to take the medicine. 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.

  • Using dry hands, remove the tablet and place it in your mouth. It will begin to dissolve right away.

  • 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.

Donepezil is usually taken at bedtime. Follow your doctor's instructions. Store donepezil at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.

Symptoms of a donepezil overdose 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 can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Donepezil side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using donepezil and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
  • black, bloody, or tarry stools;

  • coughing up blood or vomit that looks like blood or coffee grounds;

  • painful or difficult urination;

  • seizure (black-out or convulsions);

Continue taking donepezil and talk to your doctor if you have any of these less serious side effects:

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;

  • loss of appetite;

  • muscle cramps;

  • tired feeling; or

  • sleep problems (insomnia).

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect donepezil?

Before taking donepezil, tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:

  • atropine (Donnatal, and others);

  • belladonna;

  • carbamazepine (Tegretol);

  • clidinium (Quarzan);

  • dexamethasone (Decadron);

  • dicyclomine (Bentyl);

  • glycopyrrolate (Robinul);

  • hyoscyamine (Anaspaz, Cystospaz, Levsin, and others);

  • mepenzolate (Cantil);

  • methantheline (Provocholine);

  • methscopolamine (Pamine), scopolamine (Transderm-Scop);

  • phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton);

  • phenytoin (Dilantin);

  • propantheline (Pro-Banthine);

  • quinidine (Cardioquin, Quinidex, Quinaglute, others);

  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rifamate, Rifater);

  • a fungal antibiotic such as ketoconazole (Nizoral), fluconazole (Diflucan), or itraconazole (Sporanox); or

  • aspirin or other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), diclofenac (Voltaren), diflunisal (Dolobid), etodolac (Lodine), flurbiprofen (Ansaid), indomethacin (Indocin), ketoprofen (Orudis), ketorolac (Toradol), mefenamic acid (Ponstel), meloxicam (Mobic), nabumetone (Relafen), piroxicam (Feldene), and others.

If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to use donepezil or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.

There may be other drugs not listed that can affect donepezil. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has more information about donepezil written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Donepezil is available with a prescription under the brand name Aricept. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Aricept 5 mg--white, round, film-coated tablets

  • Aricept 10 mg--yellow, round, film-coated tablets

  • Aricept ODT 5 mg--white, disintegrating tablets

  • Aricept ODT 10 mg--yellow, round, disintegrating tablets

  • 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.
  • 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 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 1.04. Revision Date: 11/13/06 3:26:26 PM.

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