- What is levodopa-carbidopa, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for levodopa-carbidopa?
- Is levodopa-carbidopa available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for levodopa-carbidopa?
- What are the uses for levodopa-carbidopa?
- What are the side effects of levodopa-carbidopa?
- What is the dosage for levodopa-carbidopa?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with levodopa-carbidopa?
- Is levodopa-carbidopa safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about levodopa-carbidopa?
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 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:
Other important side effects of carbidopa-levodopa therapy include:
- memory loss,
- inability to sleep,
- daytime tiredness,
- mental depression or
Occasional involuntary movements are the most common of the serious side effects of carbidopa-levodopa therapy, and these are:
- muscle twitching,
- muscle jerks during sleep,
- hand tremor,
- 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.
What is the dosage for levodopa-carbidopa?
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.
Which drugs or supplements interact with levodopa-carbidopa?
The use of the following drugs with carbidopa-levodopa can enhance the anti-Parkinson's effects of levodopa:
- amantadine (Symmetrel),
- benztropine (Cogentin),
- procyclidine (Kemadrin), or
- trihexyphenidyl (Artane)
The following drugs can inhibit dopamine in the brain and shouldn't be used in combination with levodopa:
- haloperidol (Haldol),
- loxapine (Loxitane),
- metoclopramide (Reglan),
- phenothiazines such as prochlorperazine (Thorazine); and
- thioxanthenes as thiothixene (Navane).
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.
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Is levodopa-carbidopa safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Although there are no human studies that have examined the effects of carbidopa-levodopa on the fetus, animal studies have shown adverse effects. Therefore, in prescribing carbidopa-levodopa for a pregnant woman, the treating physician must weigh the potential risks to the fetus against the potential benefits to the mother.
Levodopa is distributed into breast milk. It also may inhibit production of milk. It is generally recommended that carbidopa-levodopa should not be given to women who are breast- feeding.
What else should I know about levodopa-carbidopa?
What preparations of levodopa-carbidopa are available?
Tablets (carbidopa/levodopa): 10/100, 25/100 mg. Tablets (Controlled Release): 25/100 and 50/200 mg.
How should I keep levodopa-carbidopa stored?
Tablets should be kept at room temperature, 15-30 C (59-86 F).
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Related Disease Conditions
Muscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that come on suddenly and are usually quite painful. Dehydration, doing strenuous exercise in a hot environment, prolonged muscle use, and certain diseases of the nervous system may cause muscle spasms. Symptoms and signs of a muscle spasm include an acute onset of pain and a possible bulge seen or felt beneath the skin where the muscle is located. Gently stretching the muscle usually resolves a muscle spasm.
Parkinson's disease is a slowly progressive neurological disease characterized by a fixed inexpressive face, a tremor at rest, slowing of voluntary movements, a gait with short accelerating steps, peculiar posture and muscle weakness, caused by degeneration of an area of the brain called the basal ganglia, and by low production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Most patients are over 50, but at least 10 percent are under 40.
Dystonia disorders cause involuntary movements and prolonged muscle contraction, resulting in twisting body motions, tremor, and abnormal posture. There are many forms of dystonia. Some types of dystonia respond to dopamine, or can be controlled with dedative-type medications, or surgery.
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
Progressive supranuclear palsy, or PSP, is a rare neurodegenerative disease that is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease because it carries similar symptoms. Because of its rarity, PSP is mostly unknown by the general public.
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