What Is Galantamine (Razadyne)?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2022. | Last updated: July 2022

Medication cannot stop the progression of Alzheimer's or cure the disease, but it may help reduce symptoms in some people. Several kinds of drugs are approved to treat the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors.

Cholinesterase inhibitors help to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory.1 By preventing the breakdown of the chemical, communication between nerve cells in the brain may be improved. This can lead to a slowing down of symptoms or a delay in exhibiting symptoms.

Galantamine is one of these cholinesterase inhibitors, although you might know it by its brand name Razadyne. Galantamine comes in three formulations: immediate-release tablets, extended-release (ER) capsules, and oral solution. Patients should talk to their doctor about which formulation is best for them and their specific situation.

What is the ingredient in galantamine?

The active ingredient in Razadyne is galantamine hydrobromide, a reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor.2

How does galantamine work?

There are chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters that help to foster communication between cells. These chemicals also help with cognition, mood, and memory. Enzymes breakdown neurotransmitters to maintain the correct amount of these chemicals in the brain, and galantamine works on one of these enzymes called acetylcholinesterase.

Acetylcholinesterase breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. When acetylcholinesterase is inhibited from breaking down acetylcholine, it increases acetylcholine levels in the brain, encouraging more communication between nerve cells and possibly improving memory and cognition. Galantamine also stimulates nicotinic receptors in the brain to release more acetylcholine.3

What are the possible side effects of galantamine?

The most common side effects of galantamine include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, and reduced appetite.4 You might notice side effects as you increase your dosage. Other side effects have included dehydration, sleepiness, blurred vision, hallucinations, seizures, tinnitus, low blood pressure, sweating, and rapid heartbeat.4

If a patient starts to experience any adverse effects or symptoms that are out of the ordinary, tell the doctor immediately. While some side effects can resolve on their own, others are more serious and may require discontinuation of the drug.

These are not all the possible side effects of galantamine. Patients should talk to their doctor about what to expect with treatment with galantamine.

Things to know about galantamine

If a patient has cardiac issues or stomach acid problems, talk to the doctor. Galantamine can cause adverse cardiac events and increase gastric acid, so this drug may not be the best choice for these individuals.4 Tell the doctor about any other medical conditions that are present, to see if this medication will exacerbate any current medical issues a patient may be dealing with.

If an individual misses more than three days of medication, tell the doctor. The drug might have to have the dosing schedule restarted.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of galantamine.

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