As Parkinson’s disease is caused by a reduction in dopamine-containing cells in the part of the brain called the basal ganglia, medications are used to try and increase dopamine signalling in the brain.
Three classes of medications are used in treating early stages of Parkinson’s disease – dopamine agonists (e.g. ropinirole, rotigotine), levodopa or monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) inhibitors (e.g. selegiline).
Other medications (e.g. entacapone) are commonly used to prevent the breakdown of levodopa by the body.
Medicinal cannabis can be considered when first line therapies have not achieved adequate benefit in improving movement problems in Parkinson’s disease.