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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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Stalevo(carbidopa/levodopa and entacapone): Ongoing Safety Review: Possible increased cardiovascular risk

Audience: Neurology, Cardiology

Issue: FDA notified healthcare professionals that it is evaluating clinical trial data that suggest patients taking Stalevo (a combination of carbidopa/levodopa and entacapone) may be at an increased risk for cardiovascular events (heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death) compared to those taking carbidopa/levodopa (sold as the combination product, Sinemet). FDA's decision to conduct a meta-analysis was based on findings from the Stalevo Reduction In Dyskinesia Evaluation – Parkinson's Disease or STRIDE-PD trial, which reported an imbalance in the number of myocardial infarctions in patients treated with Stalevo compared to those receiving only carbidopa/levodopa. Although myocardial infarction, cardiac irregularities, hypertension, and palpitations have been reported with levodopa, previous clinical trials with Stalevo did not show an imbalance in myocardial infarction, stroke, and cardiovascular death.

Background: Both Stalevo and Sinemet have been shown to be effective treatments for the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The addition of entacapone to carbidopa/levodopa has been shown to lead to a greater degree of improvement in some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease than treatment with carbidopa/levodopa alone. Entacapone is also available as a single ingredient product (sold under the brand name Comtan) to be always administered in association with carbidopa/levodopa (entacapone has no antiparkinsonian effect of its own). It is estimated that 154,000 patients were dispensed a prescription for Stalevo from its approval in June 2003 through October 2009.

Recommendations: At this time, FDA's review of the potential cardiovascular risk with Stalevo is ongoing. Healthcare professionals should regularly evaluate the cardiovascular status of patients who are taking Stalevo, especially if they have a history of cardiovascular disease. Patients should not stop taking Stalevo unless told to do so by their healthcare professional.

FDA is exploring additional ways to assess whether Stalevo increases the risk of cardiovascular events, and will update the public when this review is complete.

[08/20/2010 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]

Related MedWatch Safety Alert, March 2010