What Is Aricept (Donepezil), How Does It Work and When Is It Used?

Dr. Paul Aisen answers the question: 'Using Aricept for Alzheimer's Disease?'

May 4, 2009 -- Question: What is Aricept (donepezil), how does it work and when is it used?

Answer: Aricept is the brand name for donepezil. Donepezil is one of the cholinesterase inhibitors and overall it's the most widely prescribed drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease around the world.

As with the other drugs in this class, the cholinesterase inhibitors, Aricept (donepezil) can provide modest improvement in the primary cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. That is, individuals with the disease who take Aricept can expect some degree of improved memory and perhaps improved ability to communicate and perform activities of daily living. In addition, there may be a reduction in the occurrence of the abnormal behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, such as agitation.

Unlike the other cholinesterase inhibitors, Aricept is approved not only for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease but also for treatment of individuals with the severe stage of Alzheimer's.