"The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved pimavanserin tablets (Nuplazid, Acadia Pharmaceuticals) for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions associated with psychosis in Parkinson's disease (PD).
When patients are receiving levodopa without a decarboxylase inhibitor, levodopa must be discontinued at least twelve hours before SINEMET CR is started. In order to reduce adverse reactions, it is necessary to individualize therapy. See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION section before initiating therapy.
SINEMET CR should be substituted at a dosage that will provide approximately 25% of the previous levodopa dosage (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Carbidopa does not decrease adverse reactions due to central effects of levodopa. By permitting more levodopa to reach the brain, particularly when nausea and vomiting is not a dose-limiting factor, certain adverse central nervous system (CNS) effects, e.g., dyskinesias, will occur at lower dosages and sooner during therapy with SINEMET CR than with levodopa alone.
Patients receiving SINEMET CR may develop increased dyskinesias compared to SINEMET. Dyskinesias are a common side effect of carbidopa levodopa treatment. The occurrence of dyskinesias may require dosage reduction.
All patients should be observed carefully for the development of depression with concomitant suicidal tendencies.
As with levodopa, care should be exercised in administering SINEMET CR to patients with a history of myocardial infarction who have residual atrial, nodal, or ventricular arrhythmias. In such patients, cardiac function should be monitored with particular care during the period of initial dosage adjustment, in a facility with provisions for intensive cardiac care.
Falling Asleep During Activities Of Daily Living And Somnolence
Patients taking SINEMET CR alone or with other dopaminergic drugs have reported suddenly falling asleep without prior warning of sleepiness while engaged in activities of daily living (includes operation of motor vehicles). Road traffic accidents attributed to sudden sleep onset have been reported. Although many patients reported somnolence while on dopaminergic medications, there have been reports of road traffic accidents attributed to sudden onset of sleep in which the patient did not perceive any warning signs, such as excessive drowsiness, and believed that they were alert immediately prior to the event. Sudden onset of sleep has been reported to occur as long as one year after the initiation of treatment.
Falling asleep while engaged in activities of daily living usually occurs in patients experiencing preexisting somnolence, although some patients may not give such a history. For this reason, prescribers should reassess patients for drowsiness or sleepiness especially since some of the events occur well after the start of treatment. Prescribers should be aware that patients may not acknowledge drowsiness or sleepiness until directly questioned about drowsiness or sleepiness during specific activities. Patients should be advised to exercise caution while driving or operating machines during treatment with SINEMET CR. Patients who have already experienced somnolence or an episode of sudden sleep onset should not participate in these activities during treatment with SINEMET CR.
Before initiating treatment with SINEMET CR, advise patients about the potential to develop drowsiness and ask specifically about factors that may increase the risk for somnolence with SINEMET CR such as the use of concomitant sedating medications and the presence of sleep disorders. Consider discontinuing SINEMET CR in patients who report significant daytime sleepiness or episodes of falling asleep during activities that require active participation (e.g., conversations, eating, etc.). If treatment with SINEMET CR continues, patients should be advised not to drive and to avoid other potentially dangerous activities that might result in harm if the patients become somnolent. There is insufficient information to establish that dose reduction will eliminate episodes of falling asleep while engaged in activities of daily living.
Hyperpyrexia And Confusion
Sporadic cases of a symptom complex resembling neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) have been reported in association with dose reductions or withdrawal of certain antiparkinsonian agents such as levodopa, carbidopa levodopa and carbidopa levodopa extended release. Therefore, patients should be observed carefully when the dosage of levodopa is reduced abruptly or discontinued, especially if the patient is receiving neuroleptics.
NMS is an uncommon but life-threatening syndrome characterized by fever or hyperthermia. Neurological findings, including muscle rigidity, involuntary movements, altered consciousness, mental status changes; other disturbances, such as autonomic dysfunction, tachycardia, tachypnea, sweating, hyper- or hypotension; laboratory findings, such as creatine phosphokinase elevation, leukocytosis, myoglobinuria, and increased serum myoglobin have been reported.
The early diagnosis of this condition is important for the appropriate management of these patients. Considering NMS as a possible diagnosis and ruling out other acute illnesses (e.g., pneumonia, systemic infection, etc.) is essential. This may be especially complex if the clinical presentation includes both serious medical illness and untreated or inadequately treated extrapyramidal signs and symptoms (EPS). Other important considerations in the differential diagnosis include central anticholinergic toxicity, heat stroke, drug fever, and primary central nervous system (CNS) pathology.
The management of NMS should include: 1) intensive symptomatic treatment and medical monitoring and 2) treatment of any concomitant serious medical problems for which specific treatments are available. Dopamine agonists, such as bromocriptine, and muscle relaxants, such as dantrolene, are often used in the treatment of NMS; however, their effectiveness has not been demonstrated in controlled studies.
As with levodopa, periodic evaluations of hepatic, hematopoietic, cardiovascular, and renal function are recommended during extended therapy.
Patients with chronic wide-angle glaucoma may be treated cautiously with SINEMET CR provided the intraocular pressure is well-controlled and the patient is monitored carefully for changes in intraocular pressure during therapy.
Levodopa alone, as well as SINEMET CR, is associated with dyskinesias. The occurrence of dyskinesias may require dosage reduction.
Hallucinations / Psychotic-Like Behavior
Hallucinations and psychotic-like behavior have been reported with dopaminergic medications. In general, hallucinations present shortly after the initiation of therapy and may be responsive to dose reduction in levodopa. Hallucinations may be accompanied by confusion and to a lesser extent sleep disorder (insomnia) and excessive dreaming.
SINEMET CR may have similar effects on thinking and behavior. This abnormal thinking and behavior may present with one or more symptoms, including paranoid ideation, delusions, hallucinations, confusion, psychotic-like behavior, disorientation, aggressive behavior, agitation, and delirium.
Ordinarily, patients with a major psychotic disorder should not be treated with SINEMET CR, because of the risk of exacerbating psychosis. In addition, certain medications used to treat psychosis may exacerbate the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and may decrease the effectiveness of SINEMET CR.
Impulse Control / Compulsive Behaviors
Reports of patients taking dopaminergic medications (medications that increase central dopaminergic tone), suggest that patients may experience an intense urge to gamble, increased sexual urges, intense urges to spend money, binge eating, and/or other intense urges, and the inability to control these urges. In some cases, although not all, these urges were reported to have stopped when the dose was reduced or the medication was discontinued. Because patients may not recognize these behaviors as abnormal, it is important for prescribers to specifically ask patients or the caregivers about the development of new or increased gambling urges, sexual urges, uncontrolled spending or other urges while being treated with SINEMET CR. Physicians should consider dose reduction or stopping the medication if a patient develops such urges while taking SINEMET CR [see PATIENT INFORMATION].
Epidemiological studies have shown that patients with Parkinson's disease have a higher risk (2- to approximately 6-fold higher) of developing melanoma than the general population. Whether the increased risk observed was due to Parkinson's disease or other factors, such as drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease, is unclear.
For the reasons stated above, patients and providers are advised to monitor for melanomas frequently and on a regular basis when using SINEMET CR for any indication. Ideally, periodic skin examinations should be performed by appropriately qualified individuals (e.g., dermatologists).
Abnormalities in laboratory tests may include elevations of liver function tests such as alkaline phosphatase, SGOT (AST), SGPT (ALT), lactic dehydrogenase (LDH), and bilirubin. Abnormalities in blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and positive Coombs test have also been reported. Commonly, levels of blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and uric acid are lower during administration of carbidopa levodopa preparations than with levodopa.
Carbidopa levodopa preparations, such as SINEMET and SINEMET CR, may cause a false-positive reaction for urinary ketone bodies when a test tape is used for determination of ketonuria. This reaction will not be altered by boiling the urine specimen. False-negative tests may result with the use of glucoseoxidase methods of testing for glucosuria.
Cases of falsely diagnosed pheochromocytoma in patients on carbidopa levodopa therapy have been reported very rarely. Caution should be exercised when interpreting the plasma and urine levels of catecholamines and their metabolites in patients on levodopa or carbidopa levodopa therapy.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
In a two-year bioassay of SINEMET, no evidence of carcinogenicity was found in rats receiving doses of approximately two times the maximum daily human dose of carbidopa and four times the maximum daily human dose of levodopa (equivalent to 8 SINEMET CR tablets).
In reproduction studies with SINEMET, no effects on fertility were found in rats receiving doses of approximately two times the maximum daily human dose of carbidopa and four times the maximum daily human dose of levodopa (equivalent to 8 SINEMET CR tablets).
Pregnancy Category C
No teratogenic effects were observed in a study in mice receiving up to 20 times the maximum recommended human dose of SINEMET. There was a decrease in the number of live pups delivered by rats receiving approximately two times the maximum recommended human dose of carbidopa and approximately five times the maximum recommended human dose of levodopa during organogenesis. SINEMET caused both visceral and skeletal malformations in rabbits at all doses and ratios of carbidopa/levodopa tested, which ranged from 10 times/5 times the maximum recommended human dose of carbidopa/levodopa to 20 times/10 times the maximum recommended human dose of carbidopa/levodopa.
There are no adequate or well-controlled studies in pregnant women. It has been reported from individual cases that levodopa crosses the human placental barrier, enters the fetus, and is metabolized. Carbidopa concentrations in fetal tissue appeared to be minimal. Use of SINEMET CR in women of childbearing potential requires that the anticipated benefits of the drug be weighed against possible hazards to mother and child.
Levodopa has been detected in human milk. Caution should be exercised when SINEMET CR is administered to a nursing woman.
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established. Use of the drug in patients below the age of 18 is not recommended.
In the clinical efficacy trials for SINEMET, almost half of the patients were older than 65, but few were older than 75. No overall meaningful differences in safety or effectiveness were observed between these subjects and younger subjects, but greater sensitivity of some older individuals to adverse drug reactions such as hallucinations cannot be ruled out. There is no specific dosing recommendation based upon clinical pharmacology data as SINEMET and SINEMET CR are titrated as tolerated for clinical effect.This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 7/31/2014
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