Exelon (Rivastigmine Tartrate) Patient Sheet
Find out about Exelon, a medication for treating mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Patient Information Overview
Generic name: Rivastigmine tartrate
Category: _ Medication
Why is this drug prescribed?
Exelon is used in the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease causes physical changes in the brain that disrupt the flow of information and interfere with memory, thinking, and behavior. By boosting levels of the chemical messenger acetylcholine, Exelon can temporarily improve brain function in some Alzheimer's sufferers, though it does not halt the progress of the underlying disease. Exelon may become less effective as the disease progresses.
Most important fact about this drug
Patience is in order when starting this drug. It can take up to 12 weeks before Exelon's full benefits appear.
How should you take this medication?
Exelon should be taken with food in the morning and in the evening.
--If you miss a dose...
Give the forgotten dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the one you missed and go back to the regular schedule. Never double the dose.
Store at room temperature in a tightly closed container.
What side effects may occur?
Side effects from Exelon cannot be anticipated. If any side effects develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe to continue taking Exelon.
- More common side effects may include: Abdominal pain, accidental injury, anxiety, aggression, confusion, constipation, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, fainting, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, gas, hallucinations, headache, high blood pressure, increased sweating, indigestion, inflamed nasal passages, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, tremor, unwell feeling, urinary infection, vomiting, weakness, weight loss
- Less common side effects may include: Belching
Why should this drug not be prescribed?
Exelon cannot be used if it causes an allergic reaction.
Special warnings about this medication
Exelon often causes nausea and vomiting, especially at the beginning of treatment. The problem is more likely in women, but it can lead to significant weight loss in both women and men. Tell your doctor immediately if these side effects occur.
The chance of severe vomiting increases when Exelon is given after an interruption of several days. Do not start giving the drug again without first checking with the doctor. Dosage may need to be reduced to the lowest starting level.
Exelon may aggravate asthma and other breathing problems and can increase the risk of seizures. Other drugs of its type are also known to increase the chance of ulcers, stomach bleeding, and urinary obstruction, although these problems have not been noted with Exelon. Drugs in this category can also slow the heartbeat, possibly causing fainting in people who have a heart condition. Contact your doctor if any of these problems occur.
Exelon has not been tested in children.
Possible food and drug interactions when taking this medication
If Exelon is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Exelon with the following:
Bethanechol (Urecholine) Drugs that control spasms, such as Bentyl, Donnatal, and Levsin.
Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
Exelon is not intended for women of child-bearing age, and its effects during pregnancy and breastfeeding have not been studied.
The usual starting dose is 1.5 milligrams 2 times a day for at least 2 weeks. At 2 week intervals, the doctor may then increase the dose to 3 milligrams, 4.5 milligrams, and finally 6.0 milligrams 2 times a day. Higher doses tend to be more effective. The maximum dosage is 12 milligrams daily. If side effects such as nausea and vomiting begin to develop, the doctor may recommend skipping a few doses, then starting again at the same or the next lowest dosage.
Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
- Symptoms of Exelon overdose may include: Collapse, convulsions, breathing difficulty, extreme muscle weakness (possibly ending in death if breathing muscles are affected), low blood pressure, salivation, severe nausea, slow heartbeat, sweating, vomiting
Last Updated: 15 April 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD