Clinical Pharmacokinetics of Anti-Parkinsonian Drugs

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Of the neurological disorders, none can claim a battery of therapeutic agents based upon as rational a pharmacology as can Parkinson’s disease. In this review, the clinical pharmacokinetics of the major classes of anti-Parkinsonian drugs is discussed. Although they are the oldest drugs in the anti-Parkinsonian armamentarium, little pharmacokinetic data are available regarding the anticholinergic and antihistaminic agents. Based on elimination half-lives of 10 to 18 hours, most could probably be effectively given on a twice-daily schedule. Amantadine is unique among anti-Parkinsonian agents both in lacking a clearly defined mechanism of action and in being eliminated from the body exclusively by renal excretion of unchanged drug. Thus the normal decline of renal function in the elderly Parkinsonian population becomes an important factor in avoiding potential drug toxicity. The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of levodopa are complex. Since it is an amino acid, it follows metabolic pathways and must compete for absorption and brain uptake with a number of large neutral amino acids. It has a short elimination half-life and, as Parkinson’s disease progresses, the brain loses its capacity to store the drug and becomes dependent in a moment-to-moment fashion on plasma levodopa concentrations, creating therapeutic response fluctuations in over 50% of patients. Pharmacokinetic considerations in the management of these response fluctuations are discussed. The newest class of anti- Parkinsonian agents are the direct acting dopamine receptor agonists. These drugs, all derivatives of ergot, have more prolonged durations of anti-Parkinsonian action than levodopa. However, other than bromocriptine, clinical experience with members of this class of drugs is still limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-178
Number of pages38
JournalClinical Pharmacokinetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1987
Externally publishedYes


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