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Neurology. 1984 Aug;34(8):991-6.

Chronic low-dose levodopa therapy in Parkinson's disease: an argument for delaying levodopa therapy.


Levodopa is the most useful drug for treatment of Parkinson's disease today. But after continued use for several years, the effectiveness declines, and the undesirable side effects become more frequent, leading to unsatisfactory control. Once the treatment failure emerges, further management is difficult and often unsuccessful. One alternative for preventing side effects and treatment failure is to use a low dose. We are reporting our 12-year experience on uninterrupted treatment with levodopa, 3 grams (approximate) daily. The improvement was comparable with the best reports on higher dosage, and the side effects were significantly less frequent. The frequency of dyskinesia and on-off phenomena showed a strong correlation with duration of treatment. Psychiatric side effects were more common on treatment, but frequency of dementia did not correlate with duration of therapy. Improvement reached a peak after 6 months and remained statistically significant for 3.5 years. By the end of 5 years, the disability profile in the group was similar to that prior to levodopa treatment. So far, there is no satisfactory method for preventing treatment failure. From our observations, low dosage of levodopa is a desirable alternative, but not the answer to therapeutic failure. We recommend that levodopa use be delayed until the patient has a functional and/or psychological handicap that cannot be satisfactorily controlled with less potent antiparkinsonian agents.

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