Pramipexole has been a widely used dopamine agonist for the last decade. Recently an extended release formulation of pramipexole has been introduced as both monotherapy for patients with early Parkinson’s disease as well as for patients with more advanced disease, as an adjunct to L-DOPA. Along with the enhanced patient compliance seen with once a day dosing, there are other potential advantages of extended release preparations of dopamine agonists. Patients initiated on pramipexole have a lower incidence of developing motor fluctuations including dyskinesia than those initiated on L-DOPA. Pramipexole requires a prolonged dose titration compared to L-DOPA, and generally does not have the efficacy of L-DOPA. The extended release form of pramipexole shows comparable mean and peak serum levels with once a day dosing as seen with three times a day dosing of the immediate release preparation. The extended release preparation has been studied in randomized multicenter clinical trial against both placebo and the immediate release preparation in the setting of early Parkinson’s disease as monotherapy and in more advanced patients with motor fluctuations on L-DOPA. In both settings the extended release preparation was superior to placebo and comparable to the immediate release form in efficacy with a similar side effect profile including nausea, sleepiness, leg edema, dyskinesias, hallucinations and impulse control disorders.
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