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Parkinson’s Disease: Understanding Your Medications

Medicines are key to treating Parkinson’s. You may be prescribed one or more medicines. Be sure you know the names of your medicines and when and how to take them. Ask your healthcare provider what side effects you might expect. Also ask if you should avoid eating certain foods or drinking alcohol.

Types of medicines*


How they help

Levodopa combined with carbidopa


Levodopa replaces missing dopamine. Carbidopa helps levodopa enter the brain with fewer side effects.

Dopamine agonists

Pramipexole, bromocriptine, ropinirole, rotigotine

Imitate the way dopamine works in the brain.

MAO-B inhibitors

Selegiline, rasagiline

Help dopamine work longer.

COMT inhibitors

Entacapone, combination of carbidopa, levodopa, and entacapone

Taken with levodopa. Help dopamine enter the brain and work longer.

NMDA antagonists


Reduce involuntary movements and tremors.


Trihexyphenidyl, benztropine

Reduce tremor.


*This chart is not a complete list of Parkinson’s medicines. It does not include all side effects or adverse reactions. It does not include all interactions or precautions for these drugs. Only a doctor can recommend or prescribe these medicines.

The list of medicines does not include medicines that may treat other symptoms of Parkinson disease such as depression, psychosis, urinary symptoms, and others.


Online Medical Reviewer: Campellone, Joseph, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Last Review Date: 9/27/2015
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