Drugs that Cause Memory Loss

Drugs that Cause Memory Loss

Memory loss comes as a surprise to many people, especially when it is caused by a medication that you thought was going to help you. Putting together this list was difficult because drug companies do not seem to have a standard way of describing memory loss. It is refered to it as recall, anterograde amnesia, memory loss or simply forgetfullness.

All the drugs below cause some degree of memory loss. The drugs listed in bold print indicates an incidence of memory loss in 3% or more of users. Where possible we have noted the actual percentage of users who experience memory loss with each drug.

Special attention should be paid by users of Effexor XR®. Of all the drugs on the market, this drug has the highest incidence of memory loss in users.

  • Abilify® – Otsuka America (aripiprazole) Tablets
  • Ambien® see note below – Sanofi-Synthelabo (zolpidem tartrate)
  • Abilify® – Bristol-Myers Squibb (aripiprazole) Tablets
  • Cogentin® Injection – Merck (Benztropine Mesylate)
  • Copaxone® – Teva Neuroscience (glatiramer acetate injection)
  • Copaxone® tablets – Roche Laboratories (ribavirin, USP)
  • Copegus® tablets – 6% – Roche Laboratories (ribavirin, USP)
  • Cozaar® tablets – Merck (losartan potassium tablets)
  • Effexor XR® – 44% – Osmotica Pharmaceutical Corp. (venlafaxine hydrochloride)
  • Eldepryl® capsules (Somerset) (SELEGILINE HYDROCHLORIDE)
  • Eskalith® – GlaxoSmithKline (lithium carbonate)
  • Eskalith® – GlaxoSmithKline (lithium carbonate)
  • Gleevec® – Novartis (imatinib mesylate)
  • Hyzaar® tablets – Merck (losartan potassium-hydrochlorothiazide tablets)
  • Imitrex® Nasal Spray – GlaxoSmithKline (sumatriptan)
  • Imitrex® tablets – GlaxoSmithKline (sumatriptan succinate)
  • Klonopin® tablets – 4% – Roche Laboratories (clonazepam)
  • Klonopin® wafers – 4% – Roche Laboratories (clonazepam orally disintegrating)
  • Lamictal® tablets – GlaxoSmithKline (lamotrigine)
  • Lamictal® chewable dispersible tablets – GlaxoSmithKline (lamotrigine)
  • Lorazepam® (Ativan®) – Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. a wholly owned sub of Pfizer Inc.
  • Lupron Depot® 3.75 mg – 6% – TAP (leuprolide acetate for depot suspension)
  • Lupron Depot®-3 Month 11.25 mg – TAP (leuprolide acetate for depot suspension)
  • Lupron® injection – TAP (leuprolide acetate)
  • Maxalt® tablets – Merck (rizatriptan benzoate)
  • Maxalt-MLT® orally disintegrating tablets – Merck (rizatriptan benzoate)
  • Parcopa? orally disintegrating tablets – Schwarz (carbidopa-levodopa)
  • Pegasys® – 5% – Roche Laboratories (peginterferon alfa-2a)
  • Prinivil® tablets – Merck (Lisinopril)
  • Prinzide® tablets – Merck (Lisinopril-Hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Rifamate® capsules – Aventis (rifampin and isoniazid)
  • Rifater® tablets – Aventis (rifampin, isoniazid and pyrazinamide)
  • Roferon®-A – Roche Laboratories (Interferon alfa-2a, recombinant)
  • Seromycin® capsules – Lilly (Cycloserine)
  • Stalevo® 50, 100 and 150 tablets – Novartis (carbidopa, levodopa and entacapone)
  • Timolide® tablets – Merck (Timolol Maleate-Hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Topamax® tablets – 3.2% – Ortho-McNeil (topiramate)
  • Topamax® sprinkle capsules – 3.2% – Ortho-McNeil (topiramate capsules)
  • Transderm Scop® – Novartis (scopolamine 1.5 mg Transdermal Therapeutic System)
  • Vesanoid® capsules – 3% – Roche Laboratories (tretinoin)
  • Wellbutrin® – GlaxoSmithKline (bupropion hydrochloride)
  • Wellbutrin SR® sustained-release tablets – GlaxoSmithKline (bupropion hydrochloride)
  • Wellbutrin XL? extended-release tablets – GlaxoSmithKline (bupropion hydrochloride)
  • Xanax® – 33.1%– Pharmacia & Upjohn (alprazolam)
  • Xanax XR® – 15.4% extended-release tablets – Pharmacia & Upjohn (alprazolam)
  • Zonegran® capsules – 6% – Eisai (zonisamide)
  • Zyban® Sustained-Release tablets – GlaxoSmithKline (bupropion hydrochloride)

Note: Although not expressed as a percentage, Ambien has been documented to cause a “significant decrease in next-morning recall” of information presented to subjects.

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Memory Loss Feedback

Subj: Lithium
Date: 2/11/2007
Lithium tends to make one forgetful and especially word finding. The weight increase is also a deterrent. I can exercise and try to eat right but I want to nibble constantly and have never had this problem before. The one thing I could control in my life was my weight and now that’s not possible. The change in bowel habits is not so bad and tends to correct somewhat after time. The tremors come and go despite when the medication is taken and how much. With all of the negative side effects that I’ve described, Lithium has made me a normal calm person for the first time that I can remember. I’ll be sad to stop it but it’s not worth the money of the MD appts, weight gain etc.


Subj: Short term memory loss
Date: 2/19/2007
I have read recently that Statin drugs cause short term memory loss in a small percentage of people. I have short term memory loss and have been taking Statin drugs for many years. Do you have any idea what I can do to stop this loss–which is getting worse. Thanks,


AskDocWeb: The worst thing you can do about memory loss is to worry about it because stress just makes it worse. You might try reducing stress and learn to cope with the memory loss. I have some short-term memory loss but have learned to make good use of daily reminder notes. Also make an effort to think positively about memory loss. You might find that reading the same book or watching the same movie provides the same pleasure all over again as a new experience.

Subj: Long term effects?
Date: 3/6/2007
I take .5 xanax a day and have 2 175ml glasses of red wine a night. Sounds bad but just being honest. Will this have long term effects referring to my memory? I’m 27 in 185 exercise *5 days a week. Labs all in normal limits.


AskDocWeb: Considering that alcohol and Xanax are not to be mixed in the first place, you could have a lot more problems than just your memory. Depending on the dosage of Xanax memory impairment ranges from 5% to 33% of users.

Subj: Neurontin
Date: 3/23/2007
I notice that Neurontin is not included on your list of drugs that cause memory loss. Quite a bit of info that I’ve read suggests that short-term memory loss is affected by Neurontin. Your comments please. Thank you,


AskDocWeb: Our list is composed only of those drugs that the manufacturers acknowledge can cause memory loss.

Subj: What is going on?
Date: 3/26/2007
Hi, I wanted to ask a question I am 31 years old and I was on 3 to 4 depression pills now I am on abilify but for the past few months my mind is like an old person. I forget everything conversations sometimes where I put things, people I talk to. Could you tell me what is going on? Thanks and what do I need to do about it.


AskDocWeb: It sounds like you need to talk with your doctor about this. If you have to, make a list of your concerns to talk over with the doctor.

Subj: Misdiagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis
Date: 7/8/2007
Hello, I took injections of copaxone daily for about 2 and a half months. My memory got real bad and 6 months later it is still not back to normal. Also, I have trouble putting thoughts and words together. I can’t always seem to say what I am thinking. I have lost a great amount of the knowledge and memories that I previously had! Is this a normal reaction from copaxone. What’s really bad is that I found out taking the copaxone for no reason, I was misdiagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis!


Subj: Short-term memory loss
Date: 7/27/2007
I have been taking Lithium 1200 mg. daily and Klonopin 2mg daily for 6 years. I am 56 and bipolar. I have been experiencing short term memory loss for 4 or 5 months now. I think the Klonopin is the culprit, especially since it is really only a short term drug for anxiety. I take it to help me sleep, have an occasional anxiety attack. Can you please tell me if the Klonopin may be causing this? Thanks. Very sincerely,


AskDocWeb: In clinical trials three percent of those taking Klonopin reported some kind of memory disturbances.

Subj: Is memory loss permanent?
Date: 9/2/2007
I take xanax .5mg at night for getting to sleep and to keep me from grinding my teeth. It has worked for over a year now. I also take prinivil for my blood pressure. Both have been taken for over a year. Lately I have seen a change in my short term memory. Therefore, I am considering making an appointment with my doc to change medications after seeing this ‘post’ on memory loss. Can you tell me if the memory loss from these drugs is permanent? In other words do they cause ‘brain damage’ or is it just an ‘affect’ of the drugs and will improve when the drug is discontinued?


AskDocWeb: That is something we are still researching.

Subj: Short-term memory
Date: 9/25/2007
I had, ll years ago, an intra-colon transplant and my stomach removed. So, I have to take B-12 shots. Also, have hypertension take Coreg 6.25 and Diovan. Also on Metforin for mild diabetes. I also take Klonopin 3.0, and Lortab 5, 1/2 tablet for pain if needed after eating. Could all of this cause memory loss or any part of it. I am losing my short-term memory and can’t multi-task and it’s getting worse. Thank you.


AskDocWeb: About 4% of Klonopin users experience memory loss.

Read more feedback about memory loss.

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