- What is tacrine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- Is tacrine available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for tacrine?
- What are the uses for tacrine?
- What are the side effects of tacrine?
- What is the dosage for tacrine?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with tacrine?
- Is tacrine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about tacrine?
What is tacrine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- Tacrine is an oral medication used to treat patients with Alzheimer's disease.
- Tacrine is in a class of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors that also includes rivastigmine (Exelon), donepezil (Aricept), and galantamine (Razadyne - formerly Reminyl). Cholinesterase inhibitors inhibit (block) the action of acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme responsible for the destruction of acetylcholine.
- Acetylcholine is one of several neurotransmitters in the brain, chemicals that nerve cells use to communicate with one another. Reduced levels of acetylcholine in the brain are believed to be responsible for some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. By blocking the enzyme that destroys acetylcholine, rivastigmine increases the concentration of acetylcholine in the brain, and this increase is believed to be responsible for the improvement in thinking seen with tacrine.
- Tacrine was approved by the FDA in 1993.
What are the uses for tacrine?
Tacrine is used for the treatment of mild to moderate dementia of the Alzheimer's type.
What are the side effects of tacrine?
The most common side effect of tacrine is an increase in a liver test called alanine aminotransferase (ALT) as a result of liver damage. When a patient starts taking tacrine, blood is drawn on a weekly basis to measure ALT. If there is an increase in blood ALT, the dosage of tacrine can be reduced. Other side effects of tacrine include:
Quick GuideDementia, Alzheimer's Disease, and Aging Brains
What is the dosage for tacrine?
- The recommended dose is 10 to 20 mg four times daily.
- The maximum dose is 160 mg daily.
- Tacrine is usually taken on an empty stomach (one hour before, or two hours after meals) unless it causes stomach upset.
Which drugs or supplements interact with tacrine?
Drugs with anticholinergic properties and which cross into the brain, such as atropine, benztropine (Cogentin), and trihexyphenidyl (Artane) produce opposite effects of tacrine and should be avoided during therapy with tacrine. Unlike donezepril (Aricept), tacrine does not reduce the elimination of other drugs, increasing their levels in blood and the likelihood of their side effects.
Is tacrine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Animal reproduction studies have not been done with tacrine. It is not known if tacrine causes fetal harm when taken by a pregnant woman. Tacrine may pass into breast milk and be harmful to the nursing infant; it should not be used while nursing.
What else should I know about tacrine?
What preparations of tacrine are available?
Capsules: 10, 20, 30, and 40 mg.
How should I keep tacrine stored?
Capsules should be stored at room temperature, 15-30 C (59-86 F).
tacrine (Cognex - discontinued in the U.S.) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of mild to moderate dementia of the Alzheimer's type. Side effects, drug interactions, and dosing information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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Treatment & Diagnosis
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
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Cholinesterase inhibitors (acetylchlinesterase inhibitors) are medications that block the breakdown acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter), and that block the action of acetylchlinesterase in the body. Researchers believe that decreased levels of acetylcholine in the brain causes Alzheimer's disease and dementia symptoms.
Cholinesterase inhibitors are prescribed for the treatment and management of dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease. They also are used for the treatment and management of Parkinson's disease, glaucoma, myasthenia gravis, schizophrenia, and Lewy body dementia.
Common side effects of cholinesterase inhibitors are insomnia, abnormal dreams, weight loss, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, and fatigue. More serious side effect include hallucinations, confusion, fainting, high blood pressure, and frequent urination.
Cholinesterase inhibitors interacts with some drugs. These drugs should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Dementia is defined as a significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. There are several different types of dementia, including cortical, subcortical, progressive, primary, and secondary dementias. Other conditions and medication reactions can also cause dementia. Dementia is diagnosed based on a certain set of criteria. Treatment for dementia is generally focused on the symptoms of the disease.
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donepezilDonepezil (Aricept, Aricept ODT) is a medication prescribed for the treatment of mild, moderate, or severe dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
galantamineGeneric name galantamine, brand name Razadyne, Razadyne ER (formerly named Reminyl): Razadyne is a drug prescribed for patients with Alzheimer's disease, a form of dementia. Drug information includes side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Information also includes dosage, drug interactions, and indications.
Mental Health (Psychology)Mental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Exelon and Exelon Patch (Rivastigmine) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of mild to moderate dementia of the Alzheimer's type and mild to moderate dementia associated with Parkinson's disease. Side effects include
- weight loss, and
Dosage, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.