levodopa-carbidopa, Sinemet, Sinemet CR, Parcopa

GENERIC NAME: carbidopa-levodopa

BRAND NAME: Sinemet, Sinemet CR, Parcopa

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Carbidopa-levodopa is a combination of two drugs, levodopa and carbidopa. Carbidopa-levodopa is used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's disease is believed to be caused by low levels of dopamine in certain parts of the brain. When levodopa is taken orally, it crosses into the brain through the "blood- brain barrier." Once it crosses, it is converted to dopamine. The resulting increase in brain dopamine concentrations is believed to improve nerve conduction and assist the movement disorders in Parkinson disease. Carbidopa does not cross the blood-brain barrier. Carbidopa is added to the levodopa to prevent the breakdown of levodopa before it crosses into the brain. The addition of carbidopa allows lower doses of levodopa to be used. This reduces the risk of side effects from levodopa such as nausea and vomiting. This combination medicine was approved by the FDA in 1988.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Carbidopa-levodopa is used for the management of Parkinson's disease.

SIDE EFFECTS: Most patients receiving carbidopa-levodopa experience side effects, but these usually are reversible. Occasional involuntary movements are the most common of the serious side effects of carbidopa-levodopa therapy, and these are:

  • chewing,
  • gnawing,
  • twisting,
  • tongue or
  • mouth movements,
  • head bobbing, or
  • movements of the feet, hands, or shoulder which may respond to a reduction in the dose.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/30/2014



Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Pill Finder Tool

Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.


Back to Medications Index