Azilect is a prescription drug licensed for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. It comes in tablet form and is generally taken once a day. Azilect can be used alone or in combination with carbidopa-levodopa medications. While most people have no problems with it, side effects can include heartburn, joint pain, depression, and headaches.
This medication belongs to a class of medications called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Dopamine deficiency, caused by a loss of dopamine-producing cells in certain parts of the brain, may be responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. An enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO) breaks down monoamine chemicals, including dopamine. By inhibiting MAO enzymes, Azilect helps increase the amount of dopamine that the brain can use, which helps relieve symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
There are two types of MAO: type A and B. Although there is some MAO-A in the brain, it is found primarily in the digestive tract. MAO-B is the main form in the brain and is also found in blood platelets. Although Azilect is "selective" for MAO-B, it does inhibit MAO-A to some extent, especially at higher doses.
Unfortunately, MAO-A is responsible for breaking down dietary tyramine, an amino acid that affects blood pressure. Any medication that inhibits MAO-A stops the body's ability to break down tyramine and can cause a person's tyramine levels to be too high, which can be extremely dangerous. Because tyramine is found in many foods and beverages, people taking MAOI medications must follow a strict diet (see Azilect Food Interactions for more information).
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Azilect [package insert]. North Wales, PA: Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.;2009 December.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed December 2, 2013.
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