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Dopamine Agonists

A dopamine agonist (DA) is a medication that acts like dopamine in the brain. Unlike levodopa, dopamine agonists are not converted into dopamine, they just act like it. There are multiple dopamine agonists available in the U.S. used to improve motor symptoms of PD. Most Dopamine Agonists are used early during PD as a single drug therapy, or later in combination with carbidopa/levodopa. Because dopamine agonists have proven to treat a longer duration of PD symptoms, they can be helpful in reducing "off" times and enhance the benefits of levodopa. These medications are available as once a day, long-acting medication, and also come in a patch form. DAs are used to treat:

  • Slowness

  • Stiffness

  • Tremor

  • Restless Leg Syndrome

  • Intermittent, sudden "Off" episodes

The negative effects of DAs are generally like those of carbidopa/levodopa. However, they have also proven to have the additional potential side effects that include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Visual hallucinations

  • Confusion

  • Swelling of the legs

  • Impulsive Behaviors / Impulse Control Disorders (ICDs)

Dyskinesia is rarely seen with the use of DAs when combined with levodopa. People with PD should be aware of the risks before using dopamine agonists, and clinicians prescribing dopamine agonists should monitor for behavioral disorders.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this Parkinson Association of Alabama Resource Center is for awareness and educational purposes only about Parkinson's medication. The PAA does not endorse any specific brand or type of medication. All discussions about medication should be between you, your care partner, and your medical teams.


Davis Phinney Foundation. Parkinson's Treatments and Therapies. Chapter 7 - Medication. Page 112. Every Victory Counts. "Manual." Sixth Edition, 2021.

Parkinson's Foundation. Medications: A Treatment Guide to Parkinson's Disease. "Brochure."

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