Aricept and Namenda are popular Alzheimer's disease drugs. Both relieve symptoms of the disease. But they do so in two different ways. In doing so, the drugs have two different approaches.
These drugs focus on neurotransmitters that are key to memory and learning. Aricept focuses on acetycholine in an attempt to slow the loss of the chemical because of Alzheimer’s. Namenda hones in on glutamate, blocking the excess of this chemical produced as a part of the disease.
Function of the Neurotransmitters
Acetycholine is in charge of initiating muscle stimulation. In an Alzheimer’s diseased brain, Acetycholine's presence is greatly reduced so muscles are not properly stimulated, including the brain muscle. Glutamate stimulates neurons into action. But Alzheimer’s patients are known to have excess glutamate, which kill neurons.
Aricept has fewer side effects than Namenda. According to the Aricept product description, side effects include, “nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bruising, difficulty sleeping, muscle cramps, loss of appetite and tiredness.” Namenda's description lists “dizziness, confusion, constipation, headache” in addition to the same gastrointestinal side effects experienced by Aricept users.
Nemenda pills are larger than Aricept pills. This is a point of interest for many Alzhiemer’s patients experiencing swallowing difficulties. But Namenda is available in liquid form, and Aricept is not.
Namenda is a much newer drug to Alzheimer’s than Aricept. It was approved to treat the disease in 2003. Is has been used for dementia since 1989 in Germany, but Aricept has been treating Alzheimer’s patients since its FDA approval in 1996.
Namenda is better suited to moderate to advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, while Aricept is approved to treat patients from the early onset of the disease through it advanced stages.