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Tolcapone: review of its pharmacology and use as adjunctive therapy in patients with Parkinson's disease

Authors Truong D

Published 5 March 2009 Volume 2009:4 Pages 109—113


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Daniel D Truong

The Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder Institute, Fountain Valley, CA, USA

Abstract: Levodopa has been the gold standard therapy for the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease for more than three decades. Although it remains the most effective treatment, its long-term use is associated with motor fluctuations and dyskinesias that can be disabling for patients and difficult for physicians to manage medically. In the last 10 years, the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitor tolcapone has been studied for its efficacy as an adjunctive treatment to levodopa plus a dopa decarboxylase inhibitor. Adjunctive therapy with tolcapone can significantly reduce the dose of levodopa required. Moreover, treatment with tolcapone significantly reduces wearing off and on-off periods in fluctuating patients and improves ‘on’ time in patients with stable disease. Tolcapone has assumed a new place in the arsenal of medications for Parkinson’s disease. This paper reviews the pharmacology, safety and efficacy of tolcapone in patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease. After some initial concerns about its safety, tolcapone has been shown to be safe if used and monitored according to guidelines regarding liver function. Tolcapone produces expected dopaminergic side effects, including headache, nausea, insomnia, as well as diarrhea; however, these side effects are generally mild and as a rule do not result in discontinuation of therapy.

Keywords: tolcapone, levodopa, Parkinson’s disease, adjunctive therapy

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