Donepezil or Aricept is indicated for Alzheimer's disease. Its use is associated with modest improvements in memory and learning, but it does not slow the disease's progression.
Donepezil or Aricept is a cholinesterase inhibitor. It stops this enzyme from breaking down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The theory is that this leaves more acetylcholine in the nervous system and the nervous system functions better.
Donepezil or Aricept can cause cholinergic side effects - nausea, diarrhea, cramping, insomnia, fatigue, muscle cramps. Other cholinesterase inhibitors cause liver toxicities, but Donepezil or Aricept not been reported to do so.
Donepezil or Aricept is able in theory to interact with drugs that are metabolized at specific liver sites - theophylline, cimetidine, warfarin, digoxin, ketoconazole, quinidine. However, in clinical practice these interactions are not evident.
People who cannot tolerate the side effects are unable to use Donepezil or Aricept. It must be remembered that the drug does not "cure" Alzheimer's disease, does not slow the progression of the disease, and does not produce substantial functional improvement.
Medical Letter 1997;39(1002):53
The relevant product monographs must be regarded as the appropriate sources of prescribing information.