Stalevo Approved for Parkinson's

Prevents therapy from 'wearing off'

FRIDAY, June 13, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A new drug that extends the duration of the most widely used treatment for Parkinson's disease has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, its manufacturer says.

Stalevo contains a chemical that prevents its primary ingredient, levodopa, from "wearing off" over time. Levodopa is the most widely used agent to treat Parkinson's, but its effects last for shorter and shorter periods over prolonged use. Where initially levodopa may have prevented the tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson's for as long as eight hours, a dose may eventually only last one or two hours, according to the manufacturer of Stalevo, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.

A second ingredient in Stalevo, entacapone, blocks the enzymatic breakdown of levodopa, allowing the medication to control Parkinson's symptoms longer.

Stalevo's effectiveness was established in three 24-week multicenter clinical trials. Common side effects included nausea, diarrhea, urine discoloration, abdominal pain, dizziness, constipation, fatigue and hallucinations, Novartis says.

For more information about levodopa therapy, visit the National Library of Medicine. To learn more about Parkinson's, consult the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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