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Key points about galantamine

  • Galantamine is used to treat dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease. 
  • Galantamine is also called Reminyl®
  • Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.
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Galantamine is in a class of medications called cholinesterase inhibitors. It's used to treat mild-to-moderate dementia due to Alzheimer's diseaseGalantamine may also be used for people with mixed dementia, dementia in Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Galantamine helps to ease the symptoms of mild to moderate dementia in Alzheimer's disease, such as memory loss, but doesn't cure it. Galantamine works by increasing the amount of a chemical in the brain called acetylcholine, known to be lower in people living with dementia due to Alzheimer's disease. Read more about medicines for dementia.

Note: this medicine is not funded so you will need to pay the full price of the medicine. Talk to your doctor about this before starting.

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

    • The usual starting dose of galantamine is 8 milligrams (mg) daily.
    • Your doctor will start you on a low dose and increase the dose slowly over several weeks. This allows your body to get used to the medicine and reduces side effects.
    • 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 to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

  • Timing: Take galantamine once a day, in the morning, preferably with food. Swallow your capsules whole with a glass of water – don't chew them.
  • Missed dose: 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. Don't take double the dose.
  • Keep taking galantamine every day. It may take a while before you experience the full benefits of the medicine. If you forget to take galantamine for more than a few days, talk to 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.   

You may need regular tests

While you're taking galantamine you'll need to have regular tests. Before you start you will need an ECG to check your heart. You'll need to see your doctor regularly to check:

  • your heart rat
  • response to treatment
  • if the dose is right
  • if this medicine is right for you. 

Taking other medicines and supplements

Galantamine can interact with some medicines, herbal supplements and rongoā Māori, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting galantamine and before starting any new products.

Galantamine may affect your ability to drive

Galantamine can impair your ability to do tasks such as driving or using machines. Alcohol makes this worse. Discuss your risk with your healthcare provider. 

Tell your healthcare providers

Make sure you tell anyone providing you with health, dental or medical care that you are taking galantamine. This is important if you an operation with a general anaesthetic. 

Let your doctor know if you have ever had problems with your bladder, heart, stomach or if you have asthma, lung conditions or seizures.

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 a rash with peeling skin. You may also get symptoms like fever, flu-like symptoms and blisters in the mouth, eyes, or genitals. Stop the medication and contact your doctor immediately at 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 nausea bothers you; 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 they bother you.
  • 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.
  • Don't drink alcohol.
  • Tell your doctor if this continues.
  • Seizures, blurred vision, low mood
  • Contact your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116.
  • Signs of stomach problems such as really bad tummy pain, blood in the stool (poo) or black stools, vomiting blood or dark-coloured vomit.
  • Contact your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116.
Did you know that you can report a medicine side effect to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.(external link)

Galantamine(external link) NZ Formulary Patient Information
Reminyl(external link)
 Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet

Free helplines

Link to Māori Pharmacists website

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Dr Joanna Wang, Old Age Psychiatrist; Angela Lambie, Pharmacist

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