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.

PRESCRIPTION: Yes

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

PREPARATIONS: Tablets (carbidopa/levodopa): 10/100, 25/100 mg. Tablets (Controlled Release): 25/100 and 50/200 mg.

STORAGE: Tablets should be kept at room temperature, 15-30 C (59-86 F).

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

DOSING: Carbidopa-levodopa is taken several times per day. It may be administered with food to reduce the likelihood of nausea; however, a high-protein diet may reduce its absorption. The initial dose using regular tablets is 25/100 mg three times daily. The dose may be increased by one tablet every day or every other day until 8 tablets of 25/100 mg daily is reached. Alternatively 10/100 mg three or four times daily may be used initially and increased by one tablet daily or every other day until a total of eight tablets daily is reached. The dose of controlled release tablets is 50/200 mg twice daily and may increase up to 1.6 grams levodopa daily. Controlled release tablet should be given at least 6 hours apart.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: The use of amantadine (Symmetrel), benztropine (Cogentin), procyclidine (Kemadrin), or trihexyphenidyl (Artane) with carbidopa-levodopa can enhance the anti- Parkinson's effects of levodopa. Droperidol, haloperidol (Haldol), loxapine (Loxitane), metoclopramide (Reglan), phenothiazines such as prochlorperazine (Thorazine); thioxanthenes as thiothixene (Navane) inhibit dopamine in the brain. These drugs, therefore, can worsen Parkinson's disease and reverse the beneficial effects of levodopa. Methyldopa (Aldomet) and reserpine also can interfere with the beneficial actions of carbidopa-levodopa and can increase the risk of side effects.

The occurrence of postural hypotension (reduced blood pressure when standing from a sitting or lying down position) may increase when carbidopa-levodopa is combined with drugs that reduce blood pressure. Phenytoin (Dilantin) can increase the break-down of carbidopa-levodopa, reducing its effectiveness. Use of carbidopa-levodopa with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI's) antidepressants, for example, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and procarbazine (Matulane), can result in severe and dangerous elevations in blood pressure. MAOI's should be stopped 2-4 weeks before starting carbidopa-levodopa therapy.

The side effects associated with levodopa, including dizziness upon rising, confusion, movement disorders, nausea, and hallucinations, all can be increased by selegiline (Eldepryl).




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