Galantamin is a medicine used to treat a form of dementia called Alzheimer’s disease. The active ingredient galantamine is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but aims to slow its progression and improve symptoms such as loss of the ability to concentrate and communicate. It is prescribed for mild to moderately severe Alzheimer’s dementia.
What is Galantamin?
Galantamin contains the active ingredient galantamine. It works by slowing the breakdown of a neurotransmitter in the body called acetylcholine, a chemical substance that sends signals to other nerve cells in the brain. Alzheimer's disease causes the brain to be less sensitive to acetylcholine, which in turn leads to the gradual and irreversible loss of certain brain functions such as memory. Galantamin slows down the breakdown of acetylcholine. The result is an improvement in the levels and activity of acetylcholine in the brain. This improves information transmission between cells and slows down the deterioration of brain functions.
When is Galantamin used?
Galantamin is used to treat mild to moderately severe Alzheimer’s dementia, which is the most common type of dementia.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Difficulty performing daily tasks, such as turning the TV or radio on or off, getting dressed, cooking or grocery shopping;
- Misplacing or putting things in unusual places;
- Changes in mood and personality;
- Losing track of the date or time;
- Restlessness or agitation;
- Decreased vision.
Galantamin is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but it can slow its progression and symptoms such as memory loss. However, it does not work equally well for everyone.
How is Galantamin used?
Always use this medicine as directed by a doctor.
The general guidelines for use are as follows:
- Galantamin capsules should be taken in the morning with food, and swallowed whole with a drink of water;
- If you are switching from regular tablets or oral solution to capsules, take the first capsule on the morning after having taken your last tablet or dose of oral solution;
- It is important to drink plenty of fluids (at least eight glasses a day) to keep yourself hydrated. This helps prevent side effects.
Galantamin tablets may cause side effects that make you feel less alert than normal (e.g. dizziness or tiredness). Do not drive if you do experience these side effects. Do not drink alcohol while taking Galantamin tablets as this is likely to worsen the side effects.
If you have forgotten to take a Galantamin tablet, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Never take a double dose to make up for the forgotten one. If you forget to take your Galantamin tablets for more than one week, contact your doctor before taking any more medicine. See the package leaflet for more information on the use of this medicine.
What doses are available?
Galantamin tablets are available in capsule form in three strengths: 8 mg, 16 mg and 24 mg. Strength, length of treatment and daily dose must be determined by a doctor. General guidelines for use are for a starting dose in adults of one 8 mg capsule once a day. After a minimum of four weeks, the doctor may increase this dose to a maximum of 24 mg once a day. Patients with decreased liver function may require an adjusted dose.
This medicine is not suitable for use in children under 18 years of age. Read the package leaflet before use.
What are the side effects of Galantamin?
As with all medicines, Galantamin may cause side effects, although it is generally well tolerated.
The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with Galantamin:
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Loss of appetite, weight loss;
- Stomach pain, diarrhoea;
- Blurred vision;
- Cardiac arrhythmia;
- High blood pressure;
- Hallucinations or other forms of disordered thinking;
- Tremors, temporary deterioration of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
For a complete list of possible side effects, see the package leaflet. Consult a doctor if the side effects are severe or if you experience side effects that are not listed on the package leaflet.
When not to use Galantamin?
Galantamin is not suitable for everyone. Do not use this medicine if:
- You are allergic to the active ingredient galantamine or any other ingredient in this medicine (see the package leaflet for a full list of ingredients);
- You have severely decreased liver or kidney function;
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Galantamin should be used with extreme caution in some patients. For example, in people with:
- Heart disease, or liver or kidney problems;
- Constipation or a peptic ulcer;
- A disorder affecting the central nervous system, such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease;
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or severe asthma;
- Urinary problems.
You can find more information on this topic in the package leaflet. Always consult a doctor if you fall into one of the above- mentioned categories.
Can Galantamin be used in combination with other medicines?
Some medicines interact with each other and may interfere with the effectiveness of the other medicines or increase the risk of side effects.
Galantamin is known to interact with the following medicines:
- Other medicines for Alzheimer’s disease (e.g. donepezil or rivastigmine);
- Medicines containing ambenonium, neostigmine and pyridostigmine (medicines used to treat muscle weakness);
- Pilocarpine derivatives (medicines used to treat a dry mouth or dry eyes);
- Certain antidepressants;
- Certain antifungal medicines;
- Certain medicines for high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia or other heart problems;
- Certain antibiotics;
- Certain HIV inhibitors;
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as diclofenac and ibuprofen.
For more information on interactions, see the package leaflet. It is important to tell your doctor if you are taking any of these medicines to make sure that the combination with Galantamin is safe.
Where can I buy Galantamin?
Galantamin tablets are available at pharmacies and online pharmacies.
Can I buy Galantamin without a prescription?
Galantamin is a prescription-only medicine. You therefore need a prescription from a doctor to buy it.
Package leaflet Galantamine Retard CF 8 mg, 16 mg, 24 mg. (2017, September). Geneesmiddeleninformatiebank (Medicines Database). Consulted on 2 July 2020 on https://www.geneesmiddeleninformatiebank.nl/Bijsluiters/h109148.pdf
Diakonessenhuis. (2018, 18 August). Behandeling met galantamine (Treatment with galantamine). Diakonessenhuis.nl. Consulted on 2 July 2020 on https://www.diakonessenhuis.nl/folders/behandeling-galantamine
Galantamin Actavis Bipacksedel. (2018, 8 August). Fass Allmänhet. Consulted on 2 July 2020 on https://www.fass.se/LIF/product?userType=2&nplId=20100520000024
KNMP (Royal Dutch Pharmaceutical Society). (2020, 25 March). Galantamine. Apotheek.nl. Consulted on 2 July 2020 on https://www.apotheek.nl/medicijnen/galantamine?product=galantamine#!
Zorginstituut Nederland (Dutch National Health Care Institute). (n.d.). Galantamine. FK Online. Consulted on 2 July 2020 on https://www.farmacotherapeutischkompas.nl/bladeren/preparaatteksten/g/galantamine#