Parkinson's Disease Medications
Anticholinergics for Parkinson's DiseaseAnticholinergics were the main form of treatment before levodopa became available. Their benefit is limited, but they may help control tremors and rigidity. These Parkinson's medications are particularly helpful in reducing drug-induced parkinsonism.
Anticholinergics appear to act by blocking the action of another brain chemical, acetylcholine, whose effects become more pronounced when dopamine levels drop.
Only about half the people who receive anticholinergics respond, usually for a brief period and with only a 30 percent improvement.
Although not as effective as levodopa or bromocriptine, anticholinergics may have a therapeutic effect at any stage of the disease when taken with either of these drugs.
Specific types of anticholinergic drugs for Parkinson's disease include:
- Biperiden HCl (Akineton®)
- Trihexyphenidyl (Artane®)
- Benztropine mesylate (Cogentin®)
- Procyclidine (Kemadrin®).
Common side effects of anticholinergic medications include:
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty passing urine
- Memory loss
- Blurred vision
- Changes in mental activity
Miscellaneous MedicationsCatechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors are medications that are always used along with carbidopa-levodopa in order to improve the effectiveness of levodopa. COMT inhibitor medications include:
- Entacapone (Comtan®), also available in combination with carbidopa and levodopa (Stalevo®)
- Tolcapone (Tasmar®).
Rivastigmine (Exelon®, Exelon® Patch) is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, a medication that stops the breakdown of the brain chemical acetylcholine. It is approved to treat mild to moderate dementia due to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. It is not effective for treating other Parkinson's disease symptoms.
An antiviral drug also approved for the flu, amantadine (Symmetrel®), can also be used as a Parkinson's disease medication. Amantadine helps reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's. It is often used alone in the early stages of the disease, or with an anticholinergic drug or levodopa.