The makers of the prescription drug donepezil will have to add two more rare, but serious side effects to the information sheets all companies are required to include with prescription drugs. The government agency, Health Canada conducted a recent review of the drug sold under the brand names Aricept and Aricept RDT as well as generic equivalents used to treat the brain disorder, Alzheimer’s disease.
The drug was linked to a muscle breakdown called rhabdomyolysis and the neurological disorder NMS (neuroleptic malignant syndrome) in some patients. Both conditions are rare but can be life-threatening.
Health Canada says doctors should assess patients for risk factors before prescribing the drug.
About seven per cent of Canadians over 65 years old have Alzheimer’s disease. It’s estimated the number of people affected will exceed 750,000 by the year 2031.