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A Quick Summary of Alzheimer's Disease Medicines

A Summary of Alzheimer's Disease Medications

Note: The brief summary on Alzheimer's disease medications provided here does not include all the information pertaining to patient use and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult with your doctor and read the package insert before using these or any other medications or supplements. Drugs are listed in the order they were approved by the FDA, starting with the most recent.

DRUG NAME
DRUG TYPE AND TREATMENT
MANUFACTURER'S RECOMMENDED DOSAGE
COMMON SIDE EFFECTS
POSSIBLE DRUG INTERACTIONS
 
Blocks the toxic effects associated with excess glutamate and regulates glutamate activation.
N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist prescribed to treat symptoms of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's.
5 mg, once a day
Increase to 10 mg/day (5 mg twice a day), 15 mg/day (5 mg and 10 mg as separate doses), and 20 mg/day (10 mg twice a day) at minimum of one week intervals if well tolerated.
 
Dizziness, headache, constipation, confusion.
Other NMDA antagonist medications, including amantadine, an antiviral used to treat the flu, dextromethorphan, prescribed to relieve coughs due to colds or flu, and ketamine, sometimes used as an anesthetic, have not been systematically evaluated and should be used with caution in combination with this medication.
 
Blocks the toxic effects associated with excess glutamate and regulates glutamate activation.
 
N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist prescribed to treat symptoms of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's.
N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist prescribed to treat symptoms of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's.
 
7 mg, once daily.
Increase to 14 mg once daily, 21 mg once daily, and 28 mg once daily at minimum of one-week intervals if well tolerated.
 
Headache, diarrhea, dizziness.
Other NMDA antagonist medications, including amantadine, an antiviral used to treat the flu; dextromethorphan, prescribed to relieve coughs due to colds or flu; and ketamine, sometimes used as an anesthetic, have not been systematically evaluated and should be used with caution in combination with this medication.
Razadyne (formerly known as Reminyl) (galantamine).
 
Prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine and stimulates nicotinic receptors to release more acetylcholine in the brain.
Cholinesterase inhibitor prescribed to treat symptoms of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's.
4 mg, twice a day (8 mg/day)
Increase by 8 mg/day after 4 weeks to 8 mg, twice a day (16 mg/day) if well tolerated.
After another 4 weeks, increase to 12 mg, twice a day (24 mg/day) if well tolerated.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss.
Some antidepressants such as paroxetine, amitriptyline, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and other drugs with anticholinergic action may cause retention of excess Razadyne® (formerly known as Reminyl®) in the body, leading to complications; NSAIDs should be used with caution in combination with this medication.*
 
Prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine and butyrylcholine (a brain chemical similar to acetylcholine) in the brain.
Cholinesterase inhibitor prescribed to treat symptoms of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's.
 
The patch form is approved for mild, moderate, or severe Alzheimer's. 
1.5 mg, twice a day (3 mg/day)
Increase by 3 mg/day every 2 weeks to 6 mg, twice a day (12 mg/day) if well tolerated, for the capsule form.
 
Also available in patch form, applied once a day.
Nausea, vomiting, weight loss, upset stomach, muscle weakness.
None observed in laboratory studies; NSAIDs should be used with caution in combination with this medication.
Aricept (donepezil)

Prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain.
 
Cholinesterase inhibitor prescribed to treat symptoms of mild, moderate, or severe Alzheimer's.
5 mg, once a day
Increase after 4-6 weeks to 10 mg, once a day if well tolerated.
 
May be increased to 23 mg once daily for people with severe Alzheimer's.
Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting.
None observed in laboratory studies; NSAIDs should be used with caution in combination with this medication.
Cognex (tacrine)

Prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain.

Note: Cognex is still available but no longer actively marketed by the manufacturer.
Cholinesterase inhibitor prescribed to treat symptoms of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's.
10 mg, four times a day (40 mg/day)
Increase by 40 mg/day every 4 weeks to 40 mg, four times a day (160 mg/day), if liver enzyme functions remain normal and if well tolerated.
Nausea, diarrhea, possible liver damage.
NSAIDs should be used with caution in combination with this medication.
 
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