Health Guide

Tacrine (By mouth)

Tacrine (tak-reen)

Treats certain symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, such as confusion or memory loss. Tacrine (Cognex®) was withdrawn from the US market in May 2012.

Brand Name(s):

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to tacrine or if you are allergic to acridine medicines such as Monacrin® (used to treat skin infection or to clean wounds). You should not use this medicine if you developed yellowing of your skin or eyes while taking tacrine in the past.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you. Never decrease your dose or suddenly stop this medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
  • It is best to take this medicine on an empty stomach. Take tacrine at least one hour before meals. If it upsets your stomach, talk with your doctor, you may be able to take tacrine with food.

If a dose is missed:

  • This medicine should be given on a fixed schedule. Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Tell your doctor if you are taking theophylline (Slo-Bid®, Theo-Dur®), or if you are taking pain or arthritis medicine (sometimes called "NSAIDs") such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil®), or naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®). Taking NSAID medicines while you are using tacrine may increase your risk of having stomach ulcers.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you using dicyclomine (Bentyl®), scopolamine (Transderm Scop®), fluvoxamine (Luvox®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), or bethanechol (Urecholine®). Tell your doctor knows if you are using other medicine that is similar to tacrine.
  • There are other medicines that may interact with tacrine. Make sure your doctor knows about all other medicines you are using.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breast feeding, or if you have heart disease or problems with your heart rhythm. Tell your doctor if you have a history of stomach ulcers, liver disease, or asthma.
  • Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using this medicine. Tacrine may interact with some anesthesia medicine used during certain surgeries or medical procedures.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.
  • This medicine might reduce your ability to sweat. Your body could get too hot if you do not sweat enough. If your body gets too hot, you might feel dizzy, weak, tired, or confused. You might vomit or have an upset stomach. Do not get too hot while you are exercising. Avoid places that are very hot. Call your doctor if you are too hot and cannot cool down.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking this medicine, or take less medicine than your doctor ordered, without asking your doctor. Suddenly decreasing the amount of medicine you take may cause severe behavior changes, and make your Alzheimer's symptoms worse.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blood in your stool, or changes in the color of your stools (black, very dark, or very light).
  • Chest pain or pressure, high blood pressure, coughing, or a heartbeat that is fast or uneven.
  • Chills, fever, or becoming overheated and not being able to cool down.
  • Extreme weakness or unsteadiness.
  • Feeling like you may harm yourself.
  • New or worsening swelling of the hands, feet, face, or legs.
  • Numbness or weakness in your arm or leg, or on one side of your body.
  • Pain in your lower leg (calf).
  • Seizures or fainting.
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Sudden or severe headache, or new problems with vision, speech, balance, walking, or movement.
  • Sudden or severe abdominal (belly) pain or back pain.
  • Sudden trouble thinking clearly.
  • Trouble urinating, painful urination, or a decrease in how much or how often you urinate.
  • Twitching or muscle movements you cannot control.
  • Yellowing of your skin or eyes.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Dry, red, or irritated eyes.
  • Headache.
  • Indigestion, gas, or new trouble swallowing.
  • Feeling drowsy or dizzy.
  • Mild tremors (shakiness), nervousness, or anxiety.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Poor appetite, mild nausea or vomiting, constipation, or loose stools.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 9/4/2017
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

All rights reserved