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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(3):CD001516.

Ropinirole for levodopa-induced complications in Parkinson's disease.



Long-term levodopa therapy for Parkinson's disease is complicated by the development of motor fluctuations and abnormal involuntary movements. One approach is to add a dopamine agonist at this stage of the disease to reduce the time the patient spends immobile or off and to reduce the dose of levodopa in the hope of reducing such problems in the future.


To compare the efficacy and safety of adjuvant ropinirole therapy versus placebo in patients with Parkinson's disease already established on levodopa therapy and suffering from motor complications.


Electronic searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register. Handsearching of the neurology literature as part of the Cochrane Movement Disorders Group's strategy. Examination of the reference lists of identified studies and other reviews. Contact with SmithKline Beecham.


Randomised controlled trials of ropinirole versus placebo in patients with a clinical diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson's disease and long-term complications of levodopa therapy.


Data was abstracted independently by the authors and differences settled by discussion. The outcome measures used included Parkinson's disease rating scales, levodopa dosage, 'off' time measurements and the frequency of withdrawals and adverse events.


Three double-blind, parallel group, randomised, controlled trials have been conducted on 263 patients. The two phase II studies were relatively small, were conducted over the short term (12 weeks), and used relatively low doses of ropinirole. The other phase III study was medium term (26 weeks) and used ropinirole doses in line with the current UK licensed maximum. Additional data from the manufacturer showed that the difference in the reduction in off time was non-significantly greater with ropinirole than placebo (weighted mean difference [WMD] 0.19 hours; -0.63, 1.00 95% CI). As an adverse event, dyskinesia was significantly increased in those who received ropinirole (odds ratio [OR] 2.59; 1.35, 4.96 95% CI; p < 0.004). Measurements of motor impairments and disability were poor in these studies with incomplete information available. Levodopa dose could be reduced in two studies with a significantly larger reduction on ropinirole than on placebo (WMD 136.5mg/d; 74.5, 198.6 95% CI; p =0.00002). No significant differences in the frequency of adverse event reports were noted between ropinirole and placebo apart from the increase in dyskinesia with ropinirole. There was a trend towards fewer withdrawals from ropinirole but this did not reach statistical significance.


Ropinirole therapy can reduce levodopa dose but at the expense of increased dyskinetic adverse events. No significant effect on off time reduction was found but this may have been due to under-powered trials and the low doses of ropinirole used in the phase II studies. Inadequate data on motor impairments and disability was collected to assess these outcomes. These conclusions apply to short and medium term treatment, up to 26 weeks. Further longer term trials are required, with measurements of effectiveness, and also studies to compare the newer with the older dopamine agonists.

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