Parcopa is a medication approved for treating Parkinson's disease and parkinson-like symptoms that are caused by encephalitis, manganese poisoning, or carbon monoxide poisoning. A deficiency of a certain brain chemical, called dopamine, is thought to be responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson's. Parcopa increases the amount of dopamine in the brain. Possible side effects include nausea, confusion, and hallucinations.
A deficiency of dopamine (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. Although it would make sense to give dopamine itself to help treat Parkinson's, this does not work, as dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain.
Levodopa is a precursor of dopamine, which means that the body can use it to make dopamine. Unlike dopamine, this medication crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Levodopa is almost always given in combination with carbidopa. Carbidopa delays the conversion of levodopa into dopamine until it reaches the brain, preventing or diminishing some of the side effects (especially nausea and vomiting) that often accompany levodopa therapy. Carbidopa also reduces the amount of levodopa needed to treat Parkinson's.
Because the tablets are designed to dissolve rapidly on the tongue, they can be especially useful for people who have difficulty swallowing, a problem common in people with Parkinson's disease.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Parcopa [package insert]. Milwaukee, WI: Schwarz Pharma; no publication date provided.
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 June 17, 2010.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
National Library of Medicine (US). Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?HSDB. Accessed March 21, 2008.
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