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What Is Galantamine (Razadyne)?

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. It comes in two formulations: regular release and extended-release (ER). Patients should talk to their doctor about which formulation is best for them and their specific situation.

What is/are the ingredient[s] in galantamine?

The active ingredient in galantamine is galantamine hydrobromide, a reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, as the hydrobromide salt.2 Inactive ingredients can vary depending on the dosage, but can include gelatin, ethylcellulose, titanium dioxide, talc, hypromellose, and more.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.

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.

Dosing information

Razadyne ER tablets should be given once a day in the morning, with food if possible. The recommended starting dosage is 8mg, and should only be increased to the next maintenance dose of 16mg after at least 4 weeks.4 After at least 4 more weeks of 16mg daily, another increase to 24mg a day should be done, if tolerated. If a patient is currently taking the regular formulation of Razadyne, talk to the doctor about the conversion schedule. Typically, the last dose of regular Razadyne is taken in the evening, and then the extended-release pill is started the next morning, at the same total daily dosage.4

For those taking the immediate-release of galantamine, or regular Razadyne, the recommended starting dosage is 4mg twice daily, for a total daily dosage of 8mg. The medication should be given with morning and evening meals, if possible. After a minimum of 4 weeks, the dosage should then be increased to 8mg twice a day (16mg total daily).4 After at least 4 more weeks of 16mg daily, an increase to 12mg twice a day (24mg total daily) should be tried. Increases should be monitored for any side effects, and to see how well the increased dosage is tolerated.4

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

Written by: Jaime Rochelle Herndon | Last reviewed: June 2019
  1. Alzheimer’s Association. Medications for Memory. 2019. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/treatments/medications-for-memory Accessed February 26, 2019.
  2. RxList. RazadyneER. https://www.rxlist.com/razadyne-er-drug.htm Accessed February 26, 2019.
  3. National Institute on Aging. How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Treated? 2018. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/how-alzheimers-disease-treated Accessed February 26, 2019.
  4. Razadyne and Razadyne ER prescribing information. 2018. http://www.janssenlabels.com/package-insert/product-monograph/prescribing-information/RAZADYNE+ER-pi.pdf Accessed February 26, 2019.