Galantamine (Page 4 of 6)


Galantamine Tablets USP contain galantamine, a reversible, competitive acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, as the hydrobromide salt. Galantamine hydrobromide is known chemically as (4aS,6R,8aS)-4a,5,9,10,11,12-hexahydro-3-methoxy-11-methyl-6H-benzofuro[3a,3,2-ef][2]benzazepin-6-ol hydrobromide. It has an empirical formula of C 17 H 21 NO 3 •HBr and a molecular weight of 368.27. Galantamine hydrobromide is a white to almost white powder and is sparingly soluble in water. The structural formula for galantamine hydrobromide is:

Chemical Structure
(click image for full-size original)

Galantamine Tablets USP contain 4 mg, 8 mg, and 12 mg galantamine as 5.126, 10.253 and 15.379 mg of galantamine hydrobromide, respectively. Inactive ingredients include colloidal silicon dioxide, crospovidone, hydroxypropyl cellulose, hypromellose, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, pregelatinized starch, and titanium dioxide. The 4 mg tablets contain polyethylene glycol and polysorbate 80. The 8 mg tablets contain D&C red #27, FD&C blue #1, and triacetin. The 12 mg tablets contain FD&C yellow # 6, iron oxide yellow, and triethyl citrate.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Although the etiology of cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is not fully understood, it has been reported that acetylcholine-producing neurons degenerate in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The degree of this cholinergic loss has been correlated with degree of cognitive impairment and density of amyloid plaques (a neuropathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease).

Galantamine, a tertiary alkaloid, is a competitive and reversible inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase. While the precise mechanism of galantamine’s action is unknown, it is postulated to exert its therapeutic effect by enhancing cholinergic function. This is accomplished by increasing the concentration of acetylcholine through reversible inhibition of its hydrolysis by cholinesterase. If this mechanism is correct, galantamine’s effect may lessen as the disease process advances and fewer cholinergic neurons remain functionally intact. There is no evidence that galantamine alters the course of the underlying dementing process.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics

The pharmacokinetics of galantamine are linear over a dose range of 8-32 mg/day.

Absorption and Distribution

Galantamine is absorbed with time to peak concentration of about 1 hour. The absolute bioavailability of galantamine is about 90%. The bioavailability of the tablet formulation was the same as the bioavailability of the oral solution formulation. Food did not affect the AUC of galantamine, but C max was decreased by 25% and T max was delayed by 1.5 hours, when galantamine was administered with food. The mean volume of distribution of galantamine is 175 L.

The plasma protein binding of galantamine is 18% at therapeutically relevant concentrations. In whole blood, galantamine is mainly distributed to blood cells (52.7%). The blood to plasma concentration ratio of galantamine is 1.2.

Metabolism and Elimination

Galantamine is metabolized by hepatic cytochrome P450 enzymes, glucuronidated, and excreted unchanged in the urine. In vitro studies indicate that cytochrome CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 were the major cytochrome P450 isoenzymes involved in the metabolism of galantamine, and inhibitors of both pathways increase oral bioavailability of galantamine modestly. O-demethylation, mediated by CYP2D6 was greater in extensive metabolizers of CYP2D6 than in poor metabolizers. In plasma from both poor and extensive metabolizers, however, unchanged galantamine and its glucuronide accounted for most of the sample radioactivity.

In studies of oral 3 H-galantamine, unchanged galantamine and its glucuronide, accounted for most plasma radioactivity in poor and extensive CYP2D6 metabolizers. Up to 8 hours post-dose, unchanged galantamine accounted for 39-77% of the total radioactivity in the plasma, and galantamine glucuronide for 14-24%. By 7 days, 93-99% of the radioactivity had been recovered, with about 95% in urine and about 5% in the feces. Total urinary recovery of unchanged galantamine accounted for, on average, 32% of the dose and that of galantamine glucuronide for another 12% on average.

After i.v. or oral administration, about 20% of the dose was excreted as unchanged galantamine in the urine in 24 hours, representing a renal clearance of about 65 mL/min, about 20-25% of the total plasma clearance of about 300 mL/min. Galantamine has a terminal half-life of about 7 hours.

Specific Populations


Data from clinical trials in patients with Alzheimer’s disease indicate that galantamine concentrations are 30% to 40% higher in those patients than in healthy young subjects.

Gender and Race

A population pharmacokinetic analysis (on 539 men and 550 women) indicates that galantamine clearance is about 20% lower in women than in men (which is explained by a lower body weight in women) and that race (n = 1029 White, 24 Black, 13 Asian and 23 other) did not affect the clearance of galantamine.

Hepatic Impairment

Following a single 4 mg dose of galantamine tablets, the pharmacokinetics of galantamine in subjects with mild hepatic impairment (n=8; Child-Pugh score of 5-6) were similar to the pharmacokinetics of galantamine in healthy subjects. In patients with moderate hepatic impairment (n=8; Child Pugh score of 7-9), galantamine clearance was decreased by about 25% compared to galantamine clearance in normal volunteers. Exposure to galantamine would be expected to increase further with increasing degree of hepatic impairment [see Dosage and Administration (2.3) and Use in Specific Populations (8.6)] .

Renal Impairment

Following a single 8 mg dose of galantamine tablets, AUC increased by 37% and 67% in patients with moderate and severe renal impairment, respectively, compared with normal volunteers [see Dosage and Administration (2.4) and Use in Specific Populations (8.7)] .

CYP2D6 Poor Metabolizers

Approximately 7% of the normal population has a genetic variation that leads to reduced levels of activity of CYP2D6 isozyme. Such individuals have been referred to as poor metabolizers. After a single oral dose of 4 mg or 8 mg galantamine, CYP2D6 poor metabolizers demonstrated a similar C max and about 35% AUC increase of unchanged galantamine compared to extensive metabolizers.

A total of 356 patients with Alzheimer’s disease enrolled in two Phase 3 studies were genotyped with respect to CYP2D6 (n=210 hetero-extensive metabolizers, 126 homo-extensive metabolizers, and 20 poor metabolizers). Population pharmacokinetic analysis indicated that there was a 25% decrease in median clearance in poor metabolizers compared to extensive metabolizers. Dosage adjustment is not necessary in patients identified as poor metabolizers as the dose of drug is individually titrated to tolerability.

Drug-Drug Interactions

Multiple metabolic pathways and renal excretion are involved in the elimination of galantamine so no single pathway appears predominant. Based on in vitro studies, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 were the major enzymes involved in the metabolism of galantamine. CYP2D6 was involved in the formation of O-desmethyl-galantamine, whereas CYP3A4 mediated the formation of galantamine-N-oxide. Galantamine is also glucuronidated and excreted unchanged in urine.

Effect of Other Drugs on Galantamine

  • CYP3A4 Inhibitors:


    Ketoconazole, a strong inhibitor of CYP3A4 and an inhibitor of CYP2D6, when administered at a dose of 200 mg two times a day for 4 days, increased the AUC of galantamine by 30%.


    Erythromycin, a moderate inhibitor of CYP3A4, when administered at a dose of 500 mg four times a day for 4 days, affected the AUC of galantamine minimally (10% increase).

  • CYP2D6 Inhibitors:

    A population pharmacokinetics analysis on a database of 852 patients with Alzheimer’s disease showed that the clearance of galantamine was reduced about 25% to 33% by the concurrent administration of amitriptyline (n=17), fluoxetine (n=48), fluvoxamine (n=14), and quinidine (n=7), all of which are known inhibitors of CYP2D6.


    Paroxetine, a strong inhibitor of CYP2D6, when administered at a dose of 20 mg/day for 16 days, increased the oral bioavailability of galantamine by about 40%.

  • H2 Antagonists

    Galantamine was administered as a single dose of 4 mg on Day 2 of a 3-day treatment with either cimetidine (800 mg daily) or ranitidine (300 mg daily). Cimetidine increased the bioavailability of galantamine by approximately 16%. Ranitidine had no effect on the pharmacokinetics of galantamine.

  • Memantine

    Memantine, an N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, when administered at a dose of 10 mg two times a day, had no effect on the pharmacokinetics of galantamine (16 mg/day) at steady state.

Effect of Galantamine on Other Drugs

  • In Vitro Studies

    In vitro studies show that galantamine did not inhibit the metabolic pathways catalyzed by CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP3A4, CYP4A, CYP2C, CYP2D6 or CYP2E1. This indicates that the inhibitory potential of galantamine towards the major forms of cytochrome P450 is very low.

  • In Vivo Studies


    Multiple doses of galantamine at 24 mg/day had no effect on the pharmacokinetics of R- and S-warfarin (administered in a single dose of 25 mg) or on the increased prothrombin time induced by warfarin. The protein binding of warfarin was unaffected by galantamine.


    Multiple doses of galantamine at 24 mg/day had no effect on the steady-state pharmacokinetics of digoxin (at a dose of 0.375 mg once daily) when those two drugs were co-administered. In that study, however, one healthy subject was hospitalized on account of 2nd and 3rd degree heart block and bradycardia.

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