, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 164-180

Current status of symptomatic medical therapy in Parkinson’s disease

Summary

Symptomatic medical therapies for Parkinson’s disease (PD) have been disease modifying and have led to improvement in daily function, quality of life, and survival. For 40 years, these therapies have been primarily dopaminergic, and currently include the dopamine (DA) precursor levodopa (LD), DA agonists, catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors, and monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. The roles of all these classes of agents have evolved, with significant changes occurring since the early 2000s. This article reviews the current literature for each of these classes of drugs, with a focus on efficacy and place in the therapeutic scheme. Levodopa is no longer considered to be toxic and, thus, its early use is not only appropriate but recommended. Ergot agonists are no longer in use, and new agents administered in patch form or subcutaneous injections have been approved. The COMT inhibitor tolcapone, with its significant efficacy, has been reintroduced, and two new MAO inhibitors have been approved. Selected safety issues are discussed, including the incidence of melanoma in relation to LD; pathological gambling and DA agonists; hepatic toxicity of tolcapone; and the tyramine or so-called cheese reaction with MAO B inhibitors. The article closes with a discussion of future directions and new drugs under development.