Aricept, the widely prescribed drug for early to middle stages Alzheimer's disease, is now available in a generic form that dissolves on the tongue, after the Food and Drug Administration approved the generic drug for sale in the United States. Other generic forms of Aricept, known as donepezil, are available, but they must be swallowed. Tablets that disintegrate in the mouth are easier to take for many older people, including those with Alzheimer's, who may have difficulty swallowing pills. Generic drugs are also cheaper than their brand name counterparts.
"Generics offer greater access to health care for all Americans," said Gary Buehler, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Generic Drugs. "Health care professionals and consumers can be assured that F.D.A.-approved generic drugs have met the same rigorous standards as the brand-name drug and are the same as the branded in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use."
The orally dissolving generic drugs are made by Mutual Pharmaceutical company of Philadelphia. They are available in 5 milligram and 10 milligram strengths.
Currently approved drugs for Alzheimer's, including Aricept, Razadyne, Exelon and Memantine, may help ease symptoms but do little to stop the downward progression of disease. Researchers are actively investigating potential new drugs and therapies that may help to stop Alzheimer's at an early stage, before memory loss and other symptoms become severe.