Jan 20, 2010

Side Effects of Aricept and Namenda Combination

More and more patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease are being treated with the combination of Aricept and Namenda.

By +Bob DeMarco 
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Side Effects of Aricept and Namenda Combination

It is encouraging to know that adding Namenda (memantine) to Aricept (donepezil) has been proven to help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

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It is also understandable to be concerned about the possibility of side effects and drug interactions. It is not unusual for caregivers to confuse the side effects caused by a drug, and the symptoms that come with Alzheimer's disease.

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You should know that:
  • Namenda is well tolerated by people with Alzheimer's disease (2)
  • People taking Namenda experienced a low rate of gastrointestinal side effects (2,3)
  • Namenda has a low potential for drug interactions (2)
As with any drug, Namenda may cause some side effects in some patients. These side effects can include dizziness, constipation, headache, and confusion (2†):

In clinical trials, some people with Alzheimer's disease experienced a temporary period of confusion when taking Namenda.(2) If confusion is experienced, talk with the doctor about possibly adjusting the dose. The most common adverse events reported in patients taking Namenda + Aricept were confusion, dizziness and falls, flu-like symptoms and agitation.(2)

Low Rate of Gastrointestinal Side Effects People taking Namenda experienced a low rate of gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. In clinical trials, patients who took Namenda experienced about the same frequency of gastrointestinal side effects as those who took a placebo (sugar pill).(2,3±) In fact, a clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that compared patients with Alzheimer's disease taking Namenda + Aricept with those taking Aricept alone found that patients taking combination therapy (Namenda+Aricept) experienced fewer gastrointestinal side effects. (1***)

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Low Potential for Drug Interactions Many people with Alzheimer's disease take medications for other illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension. Fortunately, it is safe to take Namenda with most other medications – including another Alzheimer's medication, Aricept – because Namenda has a low potential for drug interactions.(2) Before starting combination therapy with Namenda, it is important that you talk with the doctor about all prescription and over-the-counter medications being taken. Source: Namenda website


± Patients taking Namenda experienced a low incidence of gastrointestinal side effects vs placebo: diarrhea (4.3% vs 4.6%), vomiting (3.0% vs 2.3%), and nausea (2.3% vs 2.5%).


(1)Tariot PN et al. JAMA. 2004 (2)Namenda® Prescribing Information. Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. St Louis, Mo. (3)Data on file. Forest Laboratories, Inc.


*Namenda is indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. **Aricept is a product of Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc. Aricept is not manufactured by the makers of Namenda. ***Results from a randomized, multicenter, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled U.S. study investigating the efficacy of NAMENDA + Aricept in patients with moderate to severe AD. The study involved 404 outpatients. Patients were randomized to treatment with NAMENDA (10 mg BID) or sugar pill to a stable regimen of Aricept (5 mg-10 mg/day) for 24 weeks.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room