Entacapone is a potent and specific peripheral catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitor. It has been shown to improve the clinical benefits of levodopa plus an aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase inhibitor (AADC) when given to patients with Parkinson's disease and end-of-dose deterioration in the response to levodopa (the 'wearing off' phenomenon). The efficacy of entacapone is currently being assessed in patients with stable Parkinson's disease. In 2 well conducted trials of 6 months' duration and smaller short term studies, treatment with entacapone (200 mg with each dose of levodopa/AADC inhibitor) was associated with significant increases in daily 'on' time and decreases in 'off' time. Changes in Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) scores concurred with changes in 'on' and 'off' times: entacapone improved total, activities of daily living and motor function scores, but it had no effect on mentation scores. Entacapone also provided benefits when given with controlled release levodopa/ AADC inhibitor or with standard levodopa/AADC inhibitor and selegiline in small trials. Dopaminergic events, including dyskinesia and nausea, are among the most common events with entacapone, and are related to the drug's ability to potentiate the effects of levodopa. Diarrhoea, abdominal pain, constipation and urine discolouration are the most common nondopaminergic events, although the latter event is the only one to occur consistently more frequently with entacapone than with placebo. However, adverse events of any type infrequently led to study discontinuation.
Conclusions: The efficacy and tolerability of entacapone administered with levodopa/AADC inhibitor have not yet been compared with those of other strategies for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. However, once the decision to initiate levodopa therapy has been made, studies generally support the use of entacapone as an adjunct to levodopa in patients with Parkinson's disease and the 'wearing off' phenomenon.