Donepezil (Molecule of the Month for July 2006)
Donepezil, marketed under the trade name Aricept, is a centrally acting reversible acetyl cholinesterase inhibitor. Its main therapeutic use is in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease where it is used to increase cortical acetylcholine.
In 2001, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended that the three drugs donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine should be made available in the NHS as one part of the management of some people with mild and moderate Alzheimer's disease.
However in 2006, NICE reversed its recommendation after appeal by the manufactures and said donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine could be used to treat moderate stage disease, also NICE ruled another drug, memantine, should be used only in clinical studies for people with moderately severe to severe Alzheimer's disease. This means the early onset on Alzheimer's disease in its mild form cannot be treated by these drugs here in the UK.
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for July 2006 )