Parkinson's Disease

Frequently Asked Questions

17. Are there other medications available to treat Parkinson's?

Yes. Other medications available to treat some symptoms and stages of Parkinson's disease include

  • dopamine agonists
  • MAO-B inhibitors
  • COMT inhibitors
  • Amantadine, an anti-viral drug, and
  • anticholinergics.

Dopamine agonists are drugs that mimic the role of dopamine in the brain. They can be used in the early stages of the disease, or later on to give a more prolonged and steady dopaminergic effect in people who experience "wearing off" effects from taking the drug. Dopamine agonists are generally less effective than levodopa in controlling rigidity and bradykinesia. They can cause confusion in older adults.

MAO-B inhibitors are another class of drugs that can reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's by causing dopamine to build up in surviving nerve cells.

COMT inhibitors prolong the effects of levodopa by preventing the breakdown of dopamine. COMT inhibitors can usually make it possible to reduce a person's dose of levodopa.

Amantadine, an old antiviral drug, can help reduce Parkinson's symptoms in the early stages of the disease, and again in later stages to treat dyskinesias.

Anticholinergics decrease the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and help to reduce tremors and muscle rigidity.

In May 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved rasagiline to be used along with levodopa for people with advanced Parkinson’s or as a single-drug treatment for early Parkinson’s. In March 2017, the FDA approved safinamide tablets as an add-on treatment for people with Parkinson’s who are currently taking levodopa/carbidopa and experiencing "off" episodes (when the person's medications are not working well, causing an increase in Parkinson’s symptoms).

Learn more about drug therapy for Parkinson’s disease.