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HomealzheimersMemantine (Namenda) Uses, Side Effects & Dosage

Memantine (Namenda) Uses, Side Effects & Dosage

What is memantine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

  • Memantine is an oral medication for treating patients with Alzheimer's disease. Other medications used for Alzheimer's disease affect acetylcholine, one of the neurotransmitter chemicals that nerve cells in the brain use to communicate with one another. These drugsgalantamine (Razadyne – formerly known as Reminyl), donezepil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), and tacrine (Cognex) – inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase that destroys acetylcholine and thereby increase the effects of acetylcholine.
  • Memantine's effects are independent of acetylcholine and acetylcholinesterase. Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. It is believed that too much stimulation of nerve cells by glutamate may be responsible for the degeneration of nerves that occurs in some neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.
  • Like other neurotransmitters, glutamate is produced and released by nerve cells in the brain. The released glutamate then travels to nearby nerve cells where it attaches to a receptor on the surface of the cells called the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. Memantine blocks this receptor and thereby decreases the effects of glutamate. It is thought that by blocking the NMDA receptor and the effects of glutamate, memantine may protect nerve cells from excess stimulation by glutamate.
  • Memantine was approved by the FDA in October 2003.

What brand names are available for memantine?

Namenda, Namenda XR

Is memantine available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for memantine?


What are the uses for memantine?

Memantine is used for the treatment of moderate to
severe dementia associated with Alzheimer’s. Dementia can be categorized into
three levels of severity: mild in which patients are alert and sociable, but
forgetfulness begins to interfere with daily living, moderate which often is the
longest stage of the disease with deterioration of intellect, logic, behavior,
and function, and severe, in which there is loss of long-term memory and
language skills. Patients with severe Alzheimer’s may require 24-hour care and
can no longer complete basic self-care tasks including washing, eating, and
using the bathroom.

What are the side effects of memantine?

The most common side effects of memantine are:

Memantine may cause a serious skin reaction called Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

Other potential serious side effects include:

What is the dosage for memantine?

  • The usual starting dose of memantine tablets is 5 mg once
  • The dose usually is increased to 5 mg twice daily, then 5 mg and 10 mg as
    separate doses daily, and finally 10 mg twice daily.
  • Memantine can be taken with
    or without food.
  • The initial recommended dose of memantine capsules is 7 mg
  • The dose may be increased weekly by 7 mg daily and the maximum dose is 28
    mg daily.
  • Capsules may be swallowed whole or opened and sprinkled on spoonsful
    of applesauce.
  • Capsules should not be crushed or chewed.

Which drugs or supplements interact with memantine?

  • Medicines that make the urine more alkaline (for
    example, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors such as
    acetazolamide (Diamox) and sodium
    bicarbonate would be expected to reduce the elimination of memantine by the
    kidneys and might increase the blood levels and the risk of side effects of
  • Combining memantine with other NMDA receptor antagonists (for
    [Symmetrel], ketamine, and dextromethorphan) has not been
    evaluated and should be done cautiously.

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Is memantine safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • Memantine given in high doses to pregnant rats and rabbits
    did not affect the offspring. However, studies have not been conducted in
    pregnant women. Memantine should only be used during
    pregnancy if the potential
    benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
  • It is not known if memantine is excreted into
    breast milk.

What else should I know about memantine?

What preparations of memantine are available?

  • Tablets: 5 and 10 mg.
  • Capsule (extended release): 7, 14,
    21 and 28 mg.
  • Solution: 2 mg/ml.
How should I keep memantine stored?

Tablets should be stored at room temperature, 15 C – 30 C (59 F – 86


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