levodopa-carbidopa, Sinemet, Sinemet CR, Parcopa

What is levodopa-carbidopa, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

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.

What brand names are available for levodopa-carbidopa?

Sinemet, Sinemet CR, Parcopa

Is levodopa-carbidopa available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for levodopa-carbidopa?

Yes

What are the uses for levodopa-carbidopa?

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

What are the side effects of levodopa-carbidopa?

Most patients receiving carbidopa-levodopa experience side effects, but these usually are reversible.

Gastrointestinal side effects are common in patients receiving carbidopa-levodopa and these include:

Patients may experience dizziness upon standing up, associated with a drop in blood pressure. Fortunately, the body develops tolerance to this side effect within a few months.

Other important side effects of carbidopa-levodopa therapy include:

 Occasional involuntary movements are the most common of the serious side effects of carbidopa-levodopa therapy, and these are:

  • muscle twitching,
  • dizziness,
  • muscle jerks during sleep,
  • hand tremor,
  • 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.

Infrequently, patients may develop a drop in white blood cell count during carbidopa-levodopa therapy. This is a significant reason to temporarily, if not permanently, stop treatment.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2016

Quick GuideParkinson's Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Stages, Treatment

Parkinson's Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Stages, Treatment
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