Five years' treatment of Parkinson's disease with levodopa. Therapeutic results and survival of 100 patients

Ann Intern Med. 1975 Oct;83(4):456-63. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-83-4-456.


One hundred patients with Parkinson's disease, who started taking levodopa before the end of 1968, have been assessed after 5 years. Forty-seven patients are still being followed on levodopa, and half of them are at least 25% better than at their pretreatment evaluation. However, the average functional rating is returning toward baseline from its remarkable improvement at 1/2 to 2 years. Abnormal involuntary movements, rapid oscillations in motor performance, postural instability, and dementia have become the major adverse effects. Thirty-two of the 100 patients have died. Life-table analysis shows an excess mortality of 1.9 compared with the U.S. population, a figure that is lower than the 2.9 reported before levodopa's use. Despite its inability to cure Parkinson's disease, levodopa provides symptomatic relief for a prolonged time and it remains the single most effective medication for the illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carbidopa / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / adverse effects
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Methyldopa / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / mortality


  • Levodopa
  • Methyldopa
  • Carbidopa