Compare Exelon vs. Namenda

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Exelon
(Rivastigmine)

Namenda
(Memantine)

Treats dementia. Exelon (Rivastigmine) works for all stages of dementia caused by Alzheimer's, and the oral version is cheaper than the patch.Treats dementia. Namenda (Memantine) is one of the few medications that can be used to treat moderate to severe dementia caused by Alzheimer's.
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Reviews & ratings
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Side effects
ExelonNamenda
  • Nausea 35%
  • Vomiting 25%
  • Tremor 19%
  • Loss of appetite 14%
  • Any side effect 13%
  • Dizziness 10%
  • Diarrhea 8%
  • Abdominal pain 7%
  • Headache 5%
  • Indigestion 5%
More Exelon side effects »
  • Headache 3%
  • Dizziness 2%
  • Constipation 2%
  • High blood pressure 2%
  • Pain 2%
  • Coughing 1%
  • Fatigue 1%
  • Shortness of breath 1%
  • Drowsiness 1%
  • Hallucination 1%
More Namenda side effects »
How it works
ExelonNamenda
Exelon (Rivastigmine) is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Researchers don't know exactly how it helps treat Alzheimer's disease, but it prevents acetylcholine, a chemical in the brain, from being broken down too quickly. Acetylcholine is important in transmitting signals through nerves, a process that breaks down in Alzheimer's.Namenda (Memantine) is an NMDA receptor antagonist. Researchers don't know exactly how it helps treat Alzheimer's disease, but it blocks an amino acid called glutamine, which seems to protect nerves from overstimulation.
Type of medication
ExelonNamenda
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor
Cholinesterase inhibitor
Prescription only
Anti-Alzheimer's
NMDA blocker
Prescription only
Available as
ExelonNamenda
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Patch
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Extended release
Used for (click to learn more)
ExelonNamenda
Risk factors for serious side effects
ExelonNamenda
      • Parkinson's disease
      • Taking anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
      Detailed Exelon (Rivastigmine) risks & warnings »
      • History of seizures
        Detailed Namenda (Memantine) risks & warnings »
        Pregnancy category
        ExelonNamenda
        BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

        Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

        See the FDA package insert
        BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

        Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

        See the FDA package insert
        Alcohol
        No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
        Food
        • If using the oral solution, take it after meals to prevent an upset stomach. It can be mixed with cold water, juice, or soda.
        • People on Exelon (Rivastigmine) have reported stomach ulcers which can also lead to bleeding in the stomach and intestines. Taking medications for inflammation, such as NSAIDs (ibuprofen or naproxen), can make this worse. Talk to your doctor if you vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds, or if your stool has blood or looks black and tarry. You can help prevent this by having some food or milk in your stomach when you take the oral medication.
        No specific food-related info.
        Kidneys and liver
        No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
        Sex
        No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
        Sleep
        No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
        Weight
        • Let your doctor know if you get serious stomach problems, issues with movement (tremor), or weight loss.
        • People on Exelon (Rivastigmine) have reported nausea and vomiting, decreased appetite and weight loss. This usually happens when the medication is first started and when there are changes in the dose. Talk to your doctor if this is a concern, especially if you have to stop taking the medication for more than 3 days.
        No specific weight-related info.
        Upsides and benefits
        ExelonNamenda
        • Can be used to treat dementia caused by all stages of Alzheimer's disease.
        • Exelon (Rivastigmine) slows the progression of Alzheimer's, including the person's cognitive function and ability to perform the usual daily living activities.
        • It also improves behavior disorders related to Alzheimer's.
        • Exelon (Rivastigmine) is available as a patch. This form causes fewer stomach problems (like nausea or vomiting).
        • The oral capsules are available as a generic medication.
        • Only used to treat moderate to severe dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease.
        • It's available as an immediate-release tablet, a solution, and an extended-release tablet.
        • Can cause fewer side effects than other medicines used to treat Alzheimer's disease.
        • Available as a generic, which is cheaper.
        Downsides and risks
        ExelonNamenda
        • Like other medications for dementia, it only slows down the progression of the disease, but it doesn't stop or reverse it.
        • You need to take the oral capsules twice a day.
        • The patches are brand name only, so they can be expensive.
        • Like other medications for dementia, it only slows down the progression of the disease; it doesn't stop or reverse it.
        Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
        ExelonNamenda
        • Exelon (Rivastigmine) can cause nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
        • Avoid activities that require full mental attention until you know how the drug affects you.
        • Let your doctor know if you get serious stomach problems, issues with movement (tremor), or weight loss.
        • If using the patch, make sure you know how to apply it. To prevent skin irritation, change the location of the patch every day.
        • If using the oral solution, take it after meals to prevent an upset stomach. It can be mixed with cold water, juice, or soda.
        • Namenda (Memantine) XR capsules can be swallowed whole and shouldn't be chewed or crushed. But they can be opened and sprinkled in a small amount of applesauce.
        • If using the oral solution, use the dosing device that comes with the medication. Slowly squirt the dose into the corner of mouth and don't mix it with any other liquids.
        • Namenda (Memantine) can cause dizziness, headache, or constipation.
        • If you've missed several doses in a row, you'll need to call your doctor about restarting the medication properly again.
        Learn more
        More about ExelonSide effectsAlternativesFDA package insert
        More about NamendaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert