Parkinsons Information & Discounts
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Also called shaking palsy or paralysis agitans, Parkinson's Disease is a degenerative movement disorder that's often diagnosed in patients 60 years or older. However, the disease is most recognizable for afflicting Michael J. Fox, who experiences an early-onset form of Parkinson's. Thankfully, treatment for Parkinson's Disease means most patients will lead long lives that are still productive and fulfilling. There's a number of Parkinson's Disease medications that assist in managing the disorder, and if you search our site, you can find free coupons and discount cards that will let you save on the purchase of Parkinson's drugs from your local pharmacy.
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Parkinsons Information & Discounts
What is Parkinson's Disease?
Parkinson's Disease is the second most common neurologic movement disorder, a.k.a. a neurodegenerative disorder. That means that as the patient ages, the impairment from Parkinson's progressively worsens. It's caused by a severe deficiency in dopamine production in the brain, which is sometimes genetic, but mostly isn't and may be environmental in origin.
Severe cases may lead to death from corollary causes, however, in most cases, Parkinson treatment allows patients to live a normal length of time. Found more common in men than women, it largely affects people over 60. The progressive muscle tremors and diminished coordination can make activities as basic as eating and speaking difficult, and unfortunately, there is no cure. With a combination of Parkinson's Disease medications and other therapies, however, a patient can continue to lead a mostly functional and productive life.
How can I manageParkinson's Disease?
Treatment for Parkinson's Disease isn't limited to Parkinson medication. For severe cases, the doctor may recommend surgical deep brain stimulation. This involves directly applying electrical pulses to the parts of the brain that control movement. Another surgery involves eradicating the parts of the brain that cause Parkinson's Disease. Research is being done into stem cell therapies, and support groups, physical therapy and speech therapy can compensate for some of the difficulties.
Most Parkinson treatment involves delaying the progression of the disease, or utilizing Parkinson's drugs to suppress its symptoms. Initial Parkinson medication regimes usually aim to promote dopamine in the brain, simulate dopamine, or prevent the reuptake of dopamine (i.e., keep it from breaking down). The earlier these Parkinson's Disease drugs can be implemented, the more effective they will be. Other aspects that can be treated with Parkinson's medication include muscle tremors, akinesia, rigidity, and decline in mood, psychosis and dementia. These should only be used as the symptoms appear. Some post-menopausal women with Parkinson's may be prescribed estrogen.
What are the different types of medications forParkinson's Disease?
Maintaining dopamine levels
There are two different kinds of drugs that can affect dopamine levels in the brain: MAO B inhibitors and dopamine agonists. While severe dopamine deficiency is the essential cause of the disorder, these are generally considered to be the lesser the Parkinson's Disease drugs, especially the MAO B inhibitors (or monoamine oxidase B inhibitors). MAO B inhibitors affect dopamine levels by interfering with the proteins that inactivate the neurochemical, and in some cases may protect neurons that produce it. Some people taking MAO B inhibitors don't notice much, if any, improvement.
Dopamine agonists, which directly stimulate the neurochemical receptors for dopamine, are most effective in early onset Parkinson's and in the earlier stages of normal onset. They're seen as more effective than MAO B inhibitors and can delay the need for other suppressive medications, but have more side effects than medications used later in the progression of the disease. Dopamine agonists are especially useful for delaying the onset of dyskinesias and other motor control difficulties.
Suppressing physical symptoms
This group of drugs is probably the most important Parkinson's medication. They're often given in coordination, selected to best address a patient's specific needs. Levodopa is almost always prescribed, and is seen as the single best effective drug for suppressing symptoms, especially rigidity and akinesia. COMT inhibitors (or catechol-O-methyl transferase inhibitors) may be prescribed to extend the duration of Levodopa's effects. Those with early onset or with only mild motor difficulties may be prescribed anticholinergics to suppress muscle tremors; they can also be given alongside Levodopa for patients with persistent tremors. In advanced cases, patients may be prescribed certain antivirals that also affect dyskinesia and other motor fluctuations, or drugs like diazepam can help with difficulties chewing and swallowing.
There are a number of corollary psychiatric effects of Parkinson's, including sleep disorders, psychosis, dementia, hallucinations, and anxiety and depression. Depression is the most commonly associated, not least because of the disorder's effect on dopamine, which affects happiness. Medications like SSRIs are common, but some medications that can improve agitation and anxiety, such as diazepam, can also assist with motor symptoms in later progressions of the disorder, such as difficulty swallowing. Insomnia is also not uncommon, and likewise, unusual daytime exhaustion and fatigue, and these are regulated individually, sometimes with the assistance of stimulants during the day. The similarities between Parkinson's and Alzheimer's means that medications for memory and dementia for the latter are also useful for Parkinson's.
What are the symptoms ofParkinson's Disease?
Unfortunately, there is no test to definitively detect Parkinson's Disease, and symptoms begin mildly enough to be overlooked, so diagnosing the disorder can be difficult. The progression of impairment will vary from patient to patient, however in most cases, symptoms begin on one side of the body, and progress to affect the entire body. These include: muscle trembling (especially in the hands, jaw, arms, legs, and face), slow movement, loss of balance and coordination, stiffness in arms, legs and core, numbness. This may progress to difficulty speaking, swallowing, or even chewing. In severe cases, disability sets on more quickly and can lead to harmful or deadly falls, etc.
A side effect or secondary symptom of Parkinson's may include anxiety and depression. In severe cases, the patient may also experience dementia.
Parkinsons Drug Information
Levodopa is the central medication for most Parkinson's Disease patients due to the fact that it's an amino acid which the body converts directly into dopamine. While it can be prescribed by itself, it's more often prescribed as carbidopa-levodopa (Sinemet, Parcopa). The only therapeutic effect the carbidopa offers is vastly improving levodopa's ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and thus improving its efficacy and diminishing side effects. Levodopa treats akinesia and rigidity, however, tremors and coordination are less likely to improve while taking levodopa. You should not use levodopa if you have or have a history of skin cancer, you have narrow-angle glaucoma, or if you take MAOIs. A number of medications and conditions interact, contraindict, or interfere with levodopa or carbidopa-levodopa, and the medication in either form can have some very severe side effects. Be sure to communicate clearly with your doctor about your complete medical history, current and recent medications, and expectations.
Rotigotine (Neupro) is a dopamine agonist that's administered as a 24-hour skin patch, ensuring constant, consistent dosing. Be sure to follow all application instructions carefully so as to prevent part or all of the skin patch from peeling away or being pulled off. Rotigotine is prescribed to treat muscle spasms and tremors, poor muscle control and coordination, and stiffness. This makes rotigotine an obvious choice to pair with levodopa, however, be sure to discuss all medications you're currently taking with your doctor to avoid interactions, especially if you're taking narcotics or psychiatric medication. The most common side effects of rotigotine are mild, however some severe side effects that require immediate medical attention may occur, including but not limited to: sleep attacks (falling asleep suddenly, even while feeling alert and engaging in activities like driving), hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behaviors.
Entacapone (Comtan) is a COMT inhibitor intended to be taken in conjunction with levodopa or carbidopa-levodopa. It's prescribed to treat the "wearing-off" stage of levodopa that some patients experience. That's because the sole purpose of entacapone is to increase the amount of levodopa in the body, improving muscle spasms, poor muscle control, and tremors. The medication has no other therapeutic effect, and entacapone must always be taken with your levodopa doses. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a history of liver disease. Be careful to drink plenty of liquids while taking entacapone, and contact your doctor immediately if you experience diarrhea and vomiting. There are other severe side effects that are possible, so be sure to discuss them thoroughly with your doctor, especially with relation to possible levodopa side effects.