Galantamine

Sounds like 'ga-lan-tah-meen'

Easy-to-read medicine information about galantamine – what it is, how to take galantamine safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Medicines for dementia
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as cholinesterase inhibitors
  • Reminyl®

What is galantamine?

Galantamine is in a class of medications called cholinesterase inhibitors. It is used to treat dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease. Galantamine helps to ease the symptoms of mild to moderate dementia in Alzheimer's disease, such as memory loss, but does not cure it. Galantamine works by increasing the amount of a chemical in the brain called acetylcholine, which is known to be lower in people experiencing dementia in Alzheimer's disease. Read more about medicines for dementia.

In New Zealand galantamine is available as capsules (8 mg, 16 mg and 24 mg). 

Dose

  • Your doctor will start you on a low dose and increase the dose slowly over a few weeks. This allows your body to get used to the medicine and reduces side effects.
  • The usual starting dose of galantamine is 8 milligrams daily.
  • After at least one month, your doctor will assess your response and may increase your dose to 16 milligrams daily. Some people may need higher doses of 24 milligrams daily.
  • Always take your galantamine exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much galantamine to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.
  • You will need to see your doctor regularly to check your response to treatment, if the dose is right, and if this medicine is right for you. 

How to take galantamine?

  • Take galantamine once a day, with food.
  • Swallow your capsules whole with a glass of water – do not chew them.
  • Keep taking galantamine every day. It may take a while before you experience the full benefits of the medication.
  • Galantamine capsules are available in different strengths (8 mg, 16 mg and 24 mg). Check with your pharmacist if your capsules are different to what you expect.
  • It is important that you take galantamine every day. If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • If you forget to take galantamine for more than a few days, talk with your doctor before starting to take it again. You may need to re-start galantamine on a lower dose. Read more about tips when taking medicines for dementia.   

Precautions – before starting galantamine

  • Do you have problems with your liver or kidneys?
  • Do you have any heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat?
  • Do you have problems with your breathing such as asthma or COPD?
  • Do you have problems passing urine (peeing)?
  • Have you recently had surgery on your bladder or stomach?
  • Do you have epilepsy?
  • Have ever had a stomach (gastric) or duodenal ulcer?
  • Are you taking any other medicines, including medicines you can buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines, or pain relief medicines?

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start galantamine. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions or it can only be used with extra care.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, galantamine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Serious skin reactions

Galantamine can cause serious skin reactions such as rash with peeling skin. This may be accompanied by fever, flu-like symptoms, blisters in the mouth, eyes, or genitals Stop the medications and contact your doctor immediately as the first sign of skin rash.

Other side effects

Side effects What should I do?
  • Nausea (feeling sick) or vomiting
  • Take galantamine with food or a snack and make sure you are drinking enough water.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome; they may recommend a lower dose.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea (runny poos)
  • These are quite common when you first start taking galantamine and usually go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome. 
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness,
  • Feeling faint
  • Try getting up or moving slowly.
  • If you begin to feel faint, sit or lie down until the feeling passes.
  • Avoid driving until you know how this medicine affects you.
    Do not drink alcohol.
  • Tell your doctor if this continues.
  • Signs of stomach problems such as really bad tummy pain, blood in the stool or black stools, vomit blood or dark-coloured vomit.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116.

Learn more

Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet: Reminyl 

References

  1. The pharmacological management of Alzheimer’s disease – the place of donepezil BPAC, NZ, 2010
  2. Antipsychotics in dementia – best practice guide BPAC, NZ
  3. Managing patients with dementia – what is the role of antipsychotics? BPAC, NZ, 2013
  4. Galantamine New Zealand Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 03 Apr 2019