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Drug Treatments

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Ebixa® (also known as memantine hydrochloride)


The purpose of this medication

Ebixa has been conditionally approved* by Health Canada to relieve the symptoms of people with
moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. It has been approved pending the results of further studies to
verify its clinical benefit.

Ebixa is one of a group of drugs called NMDA (n-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor antagonists. These
receptors, along with the neurotransmitter glutamate, are involved in transmitting nerve signals in the
brain that may be important for learning and memory. Changes in the functioning of these receptors,
or in the levels of glutamate, may affect memory and other mental functions that contribute to the
symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Ebixa, which acts on NMDA receptors, might help to normalize
transmission of nerve signals, and possibly slow the decline of some symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

How does it help?

Ebixa is intended to treat symptoms in people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. In clinical
trials, individuals who took the drug when compared to individuals who took a placebo (a substance
which looks like the drug but has no effect), showed stabilization or slower decline in cognition
(including memory, orientation, language) and function (including performance of daily activities).

The medication may take as long as 12 weeks to begin working and the type and length of response as
well as the time it takes for patients to respond to this medication will vary from person to person.


Will this medication cure Alzheimer's disease?

Ebixa is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease as it does not affect the underlying degenerative process of
the disease.


Who should take this medication?

The medication is for people who have been diagnosed with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. Ebixa can be used on its own or in combination with cholinesterase inhibitors (i.e., Aricept™ Exelon™ or Reminyl™). In controlled clinical trials, Ebixa has been used in combination with Aricept.


How is the medication obtained?

Ebixa can be obtained with a prescription from a clinician knowledgeable about treating Alzheimer's disease. This may include a family doctor, neurologist, geriatrician or psychogeriatrician.


What you should know about this medication

Ebixa has been prescribed only for you or someone in your care. Do not give it to anyone else.


What you should tell the doctor before taking this medication

Before taking Ebixa, give the doctor the following information:

  • All medical conditions, including heart problems, uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure), history of seizures or kidney disease
  • Any medications, including prescriptions and non-prescriptions which you are currently taking or have taken within the last 14 days
  • If you ever had an allergic reaction to any medication
  • If you have a urinary tract infection, if you suffer from kidney problems, or if you have recently changed your diet substantially (e.g., from a diet including meat to a vegetarian diet)

How do you take this medication?

  • Take the medication only as instructed by the doctor.
  • Usually the doctor will prescribe 20 mg per day, which can be taken as two separate doses of 10 mg.
  • To reduce the risk of undesirable reactions, the 20 mg dose will be achieved gradually, depending on the person’s response and tolerability.
  • The minimum recommended interval between increasing the dose is one week, as shown in the following table:
10 mg tablet Morning Afternoon
Week 1 ½ tablet None
Week 2 ½ tablet ½ tablet
Week 3 1 tablet ½ tablet
Week 4 and beyond 1 tablet 1 tablet

  • Do not change the dose of the medication, unless the doctor instructs you to do so.
  • The medication can be taken with or without food.
  • Stop taking the medication and contact the doctor immediately if you experience an allergic reaction or any severe reaction.
  • Continue to take the medication as long as directed by the doctor and you do not experience any unacceptable reactions. The doctor should monitor and assess the treatment regularly.
  • If you miss a dose, do not take the missed tablet, but take the next dose when it is due.

What are the possible side effects?

Along with its beneficial effect, Ebixa may cause some undesirable reactions. These may include
fatigue, dizziness, sleepiness, headache, hypertension (high blood pressure), constipation, vomiting,
anxiety, confusion, hallucinations and sleep disturbance. If you develop any other side effects while
taking this medication, consult the doctor. If you suffer from epileptic seizures, there is a slight possibility
that the medication may increase the chances of one occurring. Also, as this product may cause
sleepiness or dizziness, do not drive or operate machinery under these conditions.


What to do if an overdose is taken

If more medication has been taken than what is prescribed, contact either your doctor, hospital
emergency department, or the nearest poison control centre immediately, even if you do not feel sick.


How do you store this medication?

Ebixa tablets contain memantine hydrochloride. The 10 mg tablets are white to off-white.

  • Keep this medication in a safe place, out of the reach of children
  • Store the tablets at room temperature (15°-30° C) and in a dry place
  • If the doctor tells you to stop taking the medication, return any leftover tablets to the pharmacist, unless the doctor tells you to keep them

How much does the medication cost?

The medication costs approximately $5.00 per day. Currently, it is only covered under the provincial
drug plan in the Province of Quebec. Some private insurance plans may cover the medication.


Who distributes this medication?

Lundbeck Canada Inc. is the distributor of this medication. You can contact the company's medical information line at 1-866-880-4636 for more information.


For further information

This information sheet is a brief description about this medication. For further information or advice, please contact your doctor or pharmacist.

 

[The contents of this document are provided for information purposes only, and do not represent advice, an endorsement or a recommendation, with respect to any product, service or enterprise, and/or the claims and properties thereof, by the Alzheimer Society of Canada.]


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