Donepezil hydrochloride is the active ingredient in the prescription drug Aricept, a common drug used to treat mild, moderate, and severe Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It is a reversible inhibitor of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which is responsible for the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Increased levels of acetylcholine are believed to relieve the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Donepezil hydrochloride is known chemically by the IUPAC name 2,3-dihydro-5,6-dimethoxy-2-[[1-(phenylmethyl)-4-piperidinyl]methyl]-1H-inden-1-one hydrochloride (Figure 1). It is a white powder, and is available commercially as 5, 10, and 23 mg pills. Aricept, the original name-brand form of the drug, is marketed and sold by the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Eisai. However, the company Sandoz now makes a generic brand form of the drug as well, known as Sandoz’s Donepezil. Another generic form of donepezil created by Ranaxby Labs gained USDA approval in November of 2010, and a third generic form, made by Wockhardt, is in the process of gaining approval for sale (RxList).
Figure 1: Chemical structure of donepezil (TRC).
Major Alternative Products to Donepezil
Apart from donepezil HCl (or brand name Aricept), there exist several other drugs prescribed to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Similar FDA approved drugs include galantamine, memantine, rivastigmine, and a donepezil and memantine mixture branded under the name Namzaric. Rivastigmine and