The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given approval for the drug Stalevo-a cocktail of levodopa (L-dopa), carbidopa, and entacapone-to be marketed in the United States for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, according to a press release from the Finnish pharmaceutical company Orion Yhtyma Oyj. The drug is only approved for PD patients already taking these three drugs separately in similar doses, or those taking L-dopa at doses of 600 mg or less and not experiencing dyskinesias, the involuntary movements that plague many patients who are on L-dopa. The Swiss company Novartis will market Orion's drug in U.S.; European approval for the drug is still pending.
PD patients have a limited window-sometimes only a few years-during which L-dopa is effective in replacing the dopamine normally produced by the dying cells of the substantia nigra. One problem appears to be that L-dopa’s staying power decreases as enzymes increasingly scavenge the drug. According to Orion, the addition of entacapone and carbidopa to L-dopa in a single medication reduced motor impairment in a clinical trial of PD patients who no longer responded well to L-dopa.—Hakon Heimer
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