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Medication

photoThis section connects you to key medicines information, services and resources listed under the following headings:

Introduction
Parkinson’s affects each person differently, producing different sets of symptoms that develop at different rates. A range of medications can help control Parkinson’s symptoms over the long-term, allowing you to continue living safely and independently. Because everyone has different needs, it is important that you see a specialist doctor, such as a neurologist, who will develop a treatment plan specifically for you.

Medication plans vary between individuals and getting them right can take some fine tuning. The most effective medication plans are achieved when you take an active role in consulting with your specialist. You can best assist your neurologist or doctor to find the best possible plan for you if you clearly understand your medication and closely monitor your symptoms and any side effects.

Please Note: The information here is only a guide. Not everyone requires medication upon diagnosis; for some people it may take many years before symptoms require medication. When using medication, you should always be guided by advice from your neurologist, pharmacist or medical professional.

How can medication help manage Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s damages the cells in the brain that produce the chemical messenger dopamine. Depleted dopamine has a range of effects on the body. Of these, movement problems are often the most obvious symptom.

Find more information on Parkinson’s symptoms in help sheet 1: What is Parkinson’s Disease? PDF Document(PDF File 170KB)

Although there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, several different drug treatments are available to manage or reduce symptoms by restoring dopamine levels.

Common treatments for Parkinson’s
Please find a general overview of medication treatments in Help Sheet 2 – Medical treatments for Parkinson’s Disease. PDF Document(PDF File 174KB)

Medication Links
You can find more information on Parkinson’s medication in the links below.

Please note: Medication brands on overseas websites may vary from those prescribed in Australia.

The European Parkinson’s Disease Association’s (EPDA) Patient Guide External site link is a good resource for understanding in more detail how medication can help manage Parkinson’s.

Refer to the guide for information on:

  • The place of medication in treating Parkinson’s
  • An overview of drug treatments for Parkinson’s
  • The different classes of Parkinson’s drugs, how they act on the body, benefits and side effects
  • How different medications can be combined in the long-term management of Parkinson’s
  • Practical information on how you can use your medication to your best advantage

An additional resource is the Drug Treatment Guide External site link provided by the Parkinson’s Disease Society (UK).

For detailed information about a drug, find the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) online or call Medicines Line.

If you have medication questions and concerns you can contact:

How can I best manage my medication?
Each person has different medication needs and it can take time to find what works best. Some people find the benefits of medication reduce and symptoms return over time. It can help to keep a diary External site link of symptoms and when they occur so the doctor can work out the most effective timing and dosage to ward off motor fluctuations External site link and the effect of the medication wearing off. External site link

If you are on a number of different medications, your zoned pharmacist can conduct a Home Medicines Review External site link to ensure you are on an optimal medication plan and alert you to any side effects you may experience. Or find general information on medication management External site link here.

Important:

  • Try to take your medication on time, every time.
    • Tip: Find out about using a pill timer, External site link inaids and equipment.
  • Don’t change the times or doses of your medication without talking to your doctor.
  • Make a real effort to explain your difficulties and concerns with your doctor to help find the best treatment plan for you.
    • Tip: Make a list so you do not forget something you wanted to talk to the doctor about.
  • Keep an up to date list of all medicines to show to the doctor or pharmacist before any changes are made
  • When going to hospital, make sure you are given your medication on time!
    • Tip: Have the doctor record the prescribed dose and times on your patient drug chart. Read more about going to hospital.External site link

What should I do if I overdose or make a mistake with my medication?
Medication errors can result in a range of side effects, sometimes posing significant health risks. Errors include both underdosing and overdosing. If you are concerned about a mistake you should seek medical advice from your pharmacist, doctor or the poisons information centre External site link - 13 11 26.

If the problem is serious or if you are caring for someone who has collapsed you should call an ambulance on 000.

Side effects including gambling and compulsive behaviour
Taking Parkinson’s medication can cause problems for some people, including:

  • Nausea
  • Involuntary movements/Dyskinesias
  • Worsening of constipation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Behavioral problems, such as feeling an uncontrollable need to gamble, have sex or pursue hobbies.

In recent years there has been more evidence presented about the link between dopamine agonists and compulsive behaviors, such as gambling.

For more information, download the following information sheets:

To report a problem or side effect of your medication, call Adverse Medicine Events Line External site link - 1300 134 237

How can I save on medication?
Medications listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) are already heavily subsidised. Concession-card holders can receive a further subsidy. In addition, the PBS safety net protects you from high out-of-pocket medicine costs. Finally, if you pay tax you might be eligible for the Net medical expenses tax offset.

For more information, read about Treatment Costs.

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