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What Medicine Is Used For Parkinson’s Disease

Side Effects And Problems With Dopamine Agonists

Medications for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

Common side effects of dopamine agonists include:

If you are taking Cabergoline , Pergolide or Bromocriptine your neurologist or GP will have to arrange a chest CT scan or ultrasound of your heart yearly as over time these medications may affect heart or lung tissue.

This precaution does not apply to the other dopamine agonists available in Australia.

Your Parkinson’s Drug Treatment

Dopamine is a chemical messenger made in the brain. The symptoms of Parkinsons appear when dopamine levels become too low. This is because many of the cells in your brain that produce dopamine have died or are dying. Taking dopamine as a drug doesnt work because it cannot cross the blood brain barrier. To get around this, doctors use other medication that can act in a similar way.

Study Examines Connection Between Diabetes Medication And Parkinsons Disease

It was first suggested in the 1960s that people with type-2 diabetes are at increased risk for developing Parkinson’s disease and when they do develop PD, its progression is faster and often more severe. This may be due, in part, to an apparent relationship in the brain between dopamine, insulin resistance, and glucose control. Insulin is not only made in the pancreas, its also present in the brain where it has been shown to impact dopamine levels.

Parkinsons is generally believed by scientists to be caused by the loss of dopamine-producing neurons. Parkinsons symptoms, such as slowness, rigidity, and tremor, typically develop after approximately 40-80% of these dopamine-producing neurons die.

Why does this matter? Currently, more than 30 million people in the United States have type-2 diabetes, and that number is growing. The lifetime risk of developing Parkinson’s is also on the rise. In light of these trends, it would be valuable to know whether any specific type-2 diabetes medications might be associated with an increased or decreased risk for developing PD.

1) Thiazolidinediones , like pioglitazone or rosiglitazone , which specifically target insulin resistance

2) Drugs, like albiglutide or dulaglutide , that mimick glucagon-like peptide-1 a hormone that promotes insulin secretion, and

3) Dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors, which increase GLP-1 levels, and lead to insulin secretion and lowering of blood sugar levels


What Does This Mean?

Learn More

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Fda Approved Parkinsons Drug Treatments:

The following are a list of drugs approved to treat the symptoms of Parkinsons disease, primarily the tremors often refered to as Motor Fluctuations.Note that none of the drugs approved by the FDA for treating Parkinsons disease are cures, nor do they slow down or halt the progression of the disease.By contrast, there are many drugs in development and drugs in clinical trials which hold hope for such a treatment.Currently the most popular treatments for Parkinsons are the Levodopa based drugs blended with Carbidopa to improve longevity of the drug in ones system.Levodopa can be also be complimented with a Dopamine Agnost, a COMT inhibitor or a MAO inhibitor medication.The drugs effects are often refered to as On time where the drugs take effect vs Off time when the drug effects are wearing off and less effective.

Drugs are refered to by their corporate brand name and by their generic name.

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Causes Of Parkinsons Disease

Drugs Used in the Treatment of Parkinsons Disease ...

The causes of Parkinsons disease are still greatly unknown. Scientists who have studied this disorder estimate that 10-15% of cases come from genetics after seeing a series of genetic mutations that were common in Parkinsons patients.

Doctors suspect that environmental factors and lifestyle choices may have effects on the severity of Parkinsons disease symptoms. Exposure to chemicals like pesticides may increase the likelihood of developing Parkinsons disease. On the other hand, a good diet and regular exercise may decrease your chances.

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Levodopa: The Most Effective Drug For Treating Parkinsons

Levodopa, also known as L-DOPA, has long been, and continues to be, the most effective drug in treating Parkinsons disease symptoms. Most people with Parkinsons disease will take this drug at some point. There are side effects that can occur with Levodopa including nausea, fatigue and orthostatic hypotension. Often these side effects can be successfully treated so that Levodopa can be tolerated better. In addition, as the disease progresses and the brain has less ability to produce and process dopamine, dyskinesias, or involuntary movements can develop from Levodopa.

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Medications Used To Treat Parkinsons Disease

Nice To Know:

A few important comments before describing the medications for Parkinsons Disease

  • Drug therapy for Parkinsons disease, and the choice of drugs used for the treatment of Parkinsons disease, should be a joint decision between the person with Parkinsons disease and the physician, based on the severity of symptoms and their impact on quality of life.
  • It is emphasized that treatment for Parkinsons disease should always be individually tailored for each person.
  • Never compare your treatment schedules with those of other people with Parkinsons Disease. You are all different.

Properly selected medications with the correctly tailored dose form the mainstay of treatment of Parkinsons Disease.

Drugs currently used to treat Parkinsons Disease make movement easier and can prolong function for many years. Medications aim to replace or mimic the missing chemical dopamine in the brain.

The following are the medications used in the treatment of Parkinsons Disease. Each will be considered below.

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Keep A Medicine And Symptoms Diary

Drugs used in parkinsons disease

Keeping a diary can help you to monitor your condition and keep track of your medicines. A diary can be a useful way of letting your doctor know what problems youre experiencing, any changes in your condition from day-to-day or over a period of time, and how well your medicine is controlling your symptoms. It can also help remind you of things you want to discuss during your appointment that you may otherwise forget. You can also use it to record any embarrassing issues that you want help with but find difficult to ask about. Here is some advice on the type of information you might want to keep track of if you have Parkinson’s yourself, or if you are caring for somebody else with Parkinson’s.

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Mechanism Of Action Of Available Drugs

The major classes of drugs currently available for the treatment of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease are shown in Table 1. Many aim to increase dopamine in the brain, by increasing its production or altering its metabolism .

Table 1

Drugs with alter metabolism in boxed red italics


Levodopa is absorbed from the small intestine and transported into the brain where it is converted to dopamine. Levodopa has a short plasma half-life of about one hour. Early in Parkinson’s disease, levodopa has a long duration of action which is independent of plasma concentration, but as the disease progresses, the duration of the effect reduces. The short-duration effect is strongly linked to plasma concentration and lasts, at most, hours.

Slow-release preparations are gradually absorbed, resulting in more sustained plasma concentrations. They have reduced bioavailability higher doses are required to match the benefit of an equivalent strength of a standard preparation. Rapid release preparations are taken in liquid form to enhance passage through the stomach and absorption from the small intestine.

Dopamine agonists

Apomorphine is a potent emetic so patients must be pre-treated with domperidone 20 mg three times daily orally for at least 48 hours before the first injection. Domperidone should be continued for at least a few weeks once regular intermittent treatment has commenced. The dose can then be tapered slowly as tolerance to the emetic effects of apomorphine usually develops.

An Approach To The Treatment Of Parkinson’s Disease

No treatment can arrest or slow neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. The aim is to relieve symptoms and avoid the complications of therapy.

Early Parkinson’s disease

Many studies have shown that early treatment with dopamine agonists reduces the incidence of dyskinesia.1Fewer motor fluctuations were shown in some but not all of the studies. We recommend a dopamine agonist as the first treatment in younger patients who have mild disease and no cognitive deficit. It is necessary to add levodopa within 1-5 years in most patients. In more severe disease, treatment begins with levodopa but a dopamine agonist may be added to keep the daily dose of levodopa in the lower range if there is no cognitive deficit. Dopamine agonists are used infrequently and with caution in patients more than 70 years old because of the risk of neuropsychiatric adverse effects and postural hypotension. They are contraindicated in the presence of dementia.

Isolated resting tremor is rarely disabling, but if it interferes with function it can usually be managed with levodopa. When this is ineffective at low to moderate doses, the addition of an anticholinergic can sometimes be useful.

Patients with motor fluctuations

Role of physical therapy and surgery

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Editorial Sources And Fact

  • Parkinsons Disease: Diagnosis & Treatment. Mayo Clinic. December 8, 2020.
  • Pringsheim T, Day GS, Smith DB, et al. Dopaminergic Therapy for Motor Symptoms in Early Parkinson Disease Practice Guideline Summary: A Report of the AAN Guideline Subcommittee. Neurology. November 15, 2021.
  • Levodopa and Carbidopa. MedlinePlus. June 15, 2018.

What Are The Most Common Medicines Used To Treat Pd

current drugs for parkinsons disease download table 3


Levodopa is the most commonly prescribed and most effective medicine for controlling the symptoms of PD, particularly bradykinesia and rigidity.

Levodopa is a chemical found naturally in our brains. When given as a medicine, it is transported to the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. It is then converted into dopamine for the nerve cells to use as a neurotransmitter.

Sinemet is made up of levodopa and another drug called carbidopa. Levodopa enters the brain and is converted to dopamine while carbidopa prevents or lessens many of the side effects of levodopa, such as nausea, vomiting, and occasional heart rhythm disturbances. It is generally recommended that patients take Sinemet on an empty stomach, at least ½ hour before or one hour after meals.

There are two forms of Sinemet: controlled-release or immediate-release Sinemet. Controlled-release Sinemet and immediate-release Sinemet are equally effective in treating the symptoms of PD, but some people prefer the controlled release version. Ask your doctor which approach is best for you.

Dopamine agonists

Dopamine agonists are medicines that activate the dopamine receptor. They mimic or copy the function of dopamine in the brain.

Parlodel®, Requip®, and Mirapex® are all dopamine agonists. These medicines might be taken alone or in combination with Sinemet. Generally, dopamine agonists are prescribed first and levodopa is added if the patients symptoms cannot be controlled sufficiently.


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Treatment Of Nonparkinsonian Symptoms

Although motor symptoms are the cardinal features of PD, most if not all patients will also manifest symptoms in other spheres. Depression is particularly common and frequently antedates the motor disorder. Clinical experience shows that tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are very efficacious in this condition, with a dose and adverse event, profile similar to that of other patients. Amitriptyline, which has a marked antimuscarinic action, may adversely affect the constipation, while reducing the severity of parkinsonian tremor.

Cognitive deterioration in PD may start, even before motor symptoms appear , but more frequently characterizes the advanced stages of the disease. The underlying mechanism probably relates to cholinergic loss and is thus similar to AD. It is therefore not surprising that treatment with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors is effective in demented patients with PD. Interestingly, the motor manifestations are not made worse. Although data arc still meager, they seem to favor rivastigmine over donepezil.

The autonomic dysfunction in PD is another frequently problematic area. The most significant, of all is constipation, which commonly antedates the diagnosis and is frequently exacerbated by the antiparkinsonian drugs. Clinical experience again suggests that, the usual therapies arc useful.

Impulse Control Disorders Up Close And Personal

Michael J. Fox and people from his foundation answer questions about Parkinsons in a Google Hangout

Interestingly, Daniel Weintraub, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, says that ICDs are most likely to manifest in men as gambling and hyper sexuality, whereas in women it expresses as shopping and overeating.

Needless to say, these compulsive behaviors can have serious repercussions.

Ive seen marriages break up and lives ruined as a result of dopamine agonists, says Howard Weiss, director of the Parkinsons Disease and Movement Disorder Programs at the LifeBridge Health Brain & Spine Institute in Baltimore. Ive had at least three patients who have lost their homes because of bankruptcy after taking the drugs. It sounds like a joke, but its not.

Whats more, ICDs are shockingly common. Weintraub cites a study that demonstrated about 14% of people with PD experience 1of 4 of the typical ICD behaviors. He says his own guess is more like 17% to 20%, perhaps even 25%.

The reason that ICD might be even more prevalent than statistics show lies in the fact that they can easily slip under a doctors radar. Many patients arent forthcoming about the symptoms, and doctors may not take the time to ask the right questions.

Most doctors have no idea how to diagnose ICDs, says Weiss, and most patients are in the dark.

Sleep Attacks


DAWS Risks

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How Does It Work

In people with Parkinsons disease, the brain doesnt produce enough of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. The cells that produce dopamine either die or become impaired. Dopamine is necessary for proper motor control and movement.

Specifically, dopamine transmits signals in the brain that are involved in smooth, purposeful movements like eating, writing, and typing. Like selegeline and rasagaline, safinamide is a type of MAO-B inhibitor, which prevents the breakdown of dopamine and thus increases its levels in the brain.

Of note, safinamide also modulates glutamate release however, the specific effect of this action on the drugs therapeutic actions is unknown.

Unlike other MAO-B inhibitors, which can be prescribed alone for those with early-stage Parkinsons disease, safinamide is intended to be used in conjunction with other types of antiparkinson drugs for the later-stage disease, most notably levodopa as well as dopamine agonists.

When people first start treatment for Parkinsons symptoms, drugs tend to work pretty well and symptoms are controlled throughout the day. Between five and 10 years, however, the efficacy of conventional Parkinsons drugs wanes in many people, and symptom control becomes more difficult to alleviate.

Specifically, in people with mid- to late-stage Parkinsons disease, motor fluctuations or involuntary muscle movements begin to crop up.

Who Can Get It

5 Medications for Parkinsons Disease

While anyone can develop Parkinsons disease, age is the greatest factor in receiving a diagnosis. The average age of developing this disease is 60, and men are more likely to receive a diagnosis than women. Having a close relative, like a parent or sibling, who has Parkinsons disease doubles your risk factor.

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Full List Of Medications Approved For The Treatment Of Parkinsons Disease In The Usa

Below is a full list of Parkinsons medications that have been approved to treat Parkinsons in the United States. This material is intended to provide you with information. It should not be used for treatment purposes, but rather as a source for discussion with the patients own physician. Work with your physician to determine which medications are best for you, and know the risks and benefits of each.

What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease

Unfortunately, there are no treatments that slow or stop the progression of Parkinsons disease.

Levodopa is the most potent and prominent drug used to treat Parkinsons disease however, its effect tends to wear off over time and can lead to negative side effects including dyskinesia.

Drugs including COMT inhibitors, dopamine agonists, and non-dopaminergic treatmentssuch as anticholinergic treatments and amantadinecan be used as alternatives to levodopa, in addition to levodopa, or in combination with one another.

In people with advanced Parkinsons disease, when medications fail, deep brain stimulation can be considered to help alleviate symptoms.

Typically, medications are reserved for people whose symptoms have become severe enough to interfere with activities of daily living. Levodopa is usually the drug of choice in people aged 65 and older whose lifestyles are seriously compromised. People younger than 65 can be treated with a dopamine agonist.

Drugs are started at the lowest effective dose and treatment is typically delayed as long as possible. However, the research supporting the guiding tenet of start low and go slow with dosages of levodopa is mixed. According to author Peter Jenner:

However, Jenner goes on to note the following:

“The early use of L-dopa was also shown to be the most effective treatment for motor symptoms and not to affect the long-term risk of dyskinesia.”

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Nsaid Use Is Not Associated With Parkinsons Disease Incidence: A Norwegian Prescription Database Study

  • Brage Brakedal,

    Roles Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Writing original draft, Writing review & editing

    Affiliations Neuro-SysMed, Department of Neurology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

  • Charalampos Tzoulis,

    Roles Methodology, Supervision, Writing review & editing

    Affiliations Neuro-SysMed, Department of Neurology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

  • Ole-Bjørn Tysnes,

    Roles Supervision, Writing review & editing

    Affiliations Neuro-SysMed, Department of Neurology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

  • * E-mail:

    Affiliations Neuro-SysMed, Department of Neurology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

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