Compare Aricept vs. Namenda

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Aricept
(Donepezil)

Namenda
(Memantine)

Treats dementia. Aricept (Donepezil) works for all stages of dementia caused by Alzheimer's, but it can be expensive.Treats dementia. Namenda (Memantine) is one of the few medications that can be used to treat moderate to severe dementia caused by Alzheimer's.
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Side effects
AriceptNamenda
  • Nausea 13%
  • Diarrhea 10%
  • Sleep difficulty 8%
  • Muscle cramps 6%
  • Vomiting 5%
  • Fatigue 5%
  • Loss of appetite 5%
  • Dizziness 2%
  • Weight decrease 2%
  • Accident 1%
More Aricept side effects »
  • Headache 3%
  • Dizziness 2%
  • Constipation 2%
  • High blood pressure 2%
  • Pain 2%
  • Coughing 1%
  • Fatigue 1%
  • Shortness of breath 1%
  • Drowsiness 1%
  • Hallucination 1%
More Namenda side effects »
How it works
AriceptNamenda
Aricept (Donepezil) is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Researchers don't know exactly how it helps treat Alzheimer's disease, but it prevents acetylcholine, a chemical in the brain, from being broken down too quickly. Acetylcholine is important in transmitting signals through nerves, a process that breaks down in Alzheimer's.Namenda (Memantine) is an NMDA receptor antagonist. Researchers don't know exactly how it helps treat Alzheimer's disease, but it blocks an amino acid called glutamine, which seems to protect nerves from overstimulation.
Type of medication
AriceptNamenda
Anti-Alzheimer's
Cholinesterase inhibitor
Prescription only
Anti-Alzheimer's
NMDA blocker
Prescription only
Available as
AriceptNamenda
  • Pill
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Extended release
Used for (click to learn more)
AriceptNamenda
Risk factors for serious side effects
AriceptNamenda
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
      Detailed Aricept (Donepezil) risks & warnings »
      • History of seizures
        Detailed Namenda (Memantine) risks & warnings »
        Pregnancy category
        AriceptNamenda
        CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

        Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

        See the FDA package insert
        BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

        Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

        See the FDA package insert
        Alcohol
        No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
        Food
        • Take Aricept (Donepezil) in the evening or before going to bed. Can be taken with or without food.
        • People on Aricept (Donepezil) have reported stomach ulcers which can also lead to bleeding in the stomach and intestines. Taking medications for inflammation, such as NSAIDs (ibuprofen or naproxen), can make this worse. Talk to your doctor if you vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds, or if your stool has blood or looks black and tarry. You can help prevent this by having some food or milk in your stomach when you take the medication.
        No specific food-related info.
        Kidneys and liver
        No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
        Sex
        No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
        Sleep
        No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
        Weight
        • People on Aricept (Donepezil) have reported weight loss. This is common. If this bothers you, talk to your doctor.
        No specific weight-related info.
        Upsides and benefits
        AriceptNamenda
        • Aricept (Donepezil) can be used to treat dementia caused by all stages of Alzheimer's.
        • It can be effective for treating behavioral problems related to dementia.
        • Available in three different forms: immediate release solution, a tablet, and an orally disintegrating tablet.
        • Only used to treat moderate to severe dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease.
        • It's available as an immediate-release tablet, a solution, and an extended-release tablet.
        • Can cause fewer side effects than other medicines used to treat Alzheimer's disease.
        • Available as a generic, which is cheaper.
        Downsides and risks
        AriceptNamenda
        • Only available as a brand name medication, so it can be expensive.
        • Aricept (Donepezil) is not a good choice for people with heart problems or a slow heart rate. It can slow the heart rate down and cause dizziness or fainting.
        • Like other medications for dementia, it only slows down the progression of the disease; it doesn't stop or reverse it.
        • Like other medications for dementia, it only slows down the progression of the disease; it doesn't stop or reverse it.
        Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
        AriceptNamenda
        • Take Aricept (Donepezil) in the evening or before going to bed. Can be taken with or without food.
        • Can cause increased stomach acid (and possibly heartburn), especially if you're also taking anti-inflammatory medications like NSAIDs.
        • Can cause nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
        • If you're taking the orally disintegrating tablet (ODT), place it on your tongue and let it dissolve, then drink a full cup of water.
        • The oral tablet shouldn’t be split, crushed, or chewed.
        • If you've missed seven doses in a row, you'll need to call your doctor about restarting the medication properly again.
        • Namenda (Memantine) XR capsules can be swallowed whole and shouldn't be chewed or crushed. But they can be opened and sprinkled in a small amount of applesauce.
        • If using the oral solution, use the dosing device that comes with the medication. Slowly squirt the dose into the corner of mouth and don't mix it with any other liquids.
        • Namenda (Memantine) can cause dizziness, headache, or constipation.
        • If you've missed several doses in a row, you'll need to call your doctor about restarting the medication properly again.
        Learn more
        More about AriceptSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
        More about NamendaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert