Tolcapone: A novel approach to Parkinson's Disease

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American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy


The pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, clinical efficacy, adverse effects, and dosage and administration of tolcapone are reviewed. Tolcapone is the first drug brought to market from the new class of selective and reversible inhibitors of catechol-O-methyltransferase. Tolcapone is indicated for use in the treatment of Parkinson's disease as an adjunct to levodopa-carbidopa therapy in patients who are experiencing fluctuations in symptoms and who are not responding to orate not appropriate candidates for other adjunctive therapies. The absolute bioavailability of tolcapone after an oral dose is about 65%. Clinical trials have demonstrated that tolcapone 50-200 mg three times daily reduces 'off' time in patients refractory to levodopa-carbidopa, Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale scores, and the dosage of levodopa- carbidopa required for symptom suppression. The most frequent adverse effects of tolcapone are dyskinesia, nausea, sleep disorders, dystonia, orthostatic hypotension, diarrhea, dizziness, and hallucinations; also, there is a potential for elevation of liver transaminase concentrations in the blood. To date, three deaths from fulminant hepatic failure in association with tolcapone have been reported. Extensive liver function testing is required of all patients before and during therapy. The recommended starting dosage is 100 mg orally three times daily as an adjunct to levodopa-carbidopa therapy; a concurrent reduction in the levodopa dosage of about 30% is suggested. Patient response should be monitored carefully during the first three weeks of therapy; treatment should be discontinued in patients failing to respond during this initial use. Tolcapone is of benefit in fluctuating Parkinson's disease, but benefits must be carefully weighed against risks in individual patients.

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