Memantine is a relatively new drug specially developed for use in moderate-to-severe dementia. It is an uncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist and reduces glutamatergic excitotoxicity. Though Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the commonest cause of dementia in the world, there is no "cure" available for the same. Cholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil and rivastigmine have been shown to provide symptomatic relief in patients with AD but have no effect on disease progression or survival. Moreover, they are not helpful in more severe stages of dementia. Memantine has been shown to cause modest improvement in clinical symptoms in severe stages of AD and may retard the disease progression. Moreover, it has been shown to be useful in various forms of dementia including AD, vascular dementia and Wernicke-Korsakoff psychosis. It is also the first drug to cause complete disappearance of pendular nystagmus due to multiple sclerosis. The current review focuses on the pharmacological properties of memantine and examines the recent evidence in favor of memantine.
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