Amantadine

Amantadine is the only glutamate antagonist drug that is prescribed to treat Parkinson’s. It is often used to treat dyskinesia. Amantadine is an unbranded form of Parkinson’s medication, which comes in the form of capsules and syrup. 

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Amantadine isn’t used as much as other Parkinson’s medication and is not usually prescribed alone.

There isn’t much evidence that amantadine can improve tremor and other motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. But it can be used to treat involuntary movements (dyskinesia) if other Parkinson’s medication has not been effective.

Amantadine is often prescribed when other medication is no longer working as well but it can be used at all stages of Parkinson’s.

Amantadine is usually given with other drug treatments. It is started at a lower dose and the amount is stepped up gradually.
 

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The SIGN guidelines for the NHS in Scotland and the NICE guidelines for the NHS in England and Wales (which are also recommended for use in Northern Ireland) say there is not enough scientific evidence to support this drug as a first choice in early Parkinson’s.

But for some people, later on, amantadine may reduce involuntary movements (dyskinesia) caused by your other Parkinson’s drugs, without making your Parkinson’s symptoms worse.

Amantadine can also help to reduce stiffness you may experience in your muscles.

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There are certain risks associated with using amantadine, including: 

Limited effect on Parkinson’s

Amantadine is not a first choice for the treatment of Parkinson’s and it may have only a mild effect. Over time, people can become used to this medication and amantadine can become less effective.

Impulsive and compulsive behaviours

Behaviours may involve gambling, becoming a ‘shopaholic’, binge eating or focusing on sexual feelings and thoughts. This can have a huge impact on people’s lives including family and friends.

Not everyone who takes Parkinson’s medication will experience impulsive and compulsive behaviours, so these side effects should not put you off taking your medication to control your symptoms.

Find out more about impulsive and compulsive behaviours

Amantadine side effects

Some of the possible side effects you may experience with amantadine include:

  • feeling nervous, anxious or overexcited
  • blurred vision, fainting, confusion or dizziness – these symptoms may be linked to low blood pressure when changing position (postural hypotension). If you have these side effects, it is not safe to drive or use machinery.
  • headaches, poor concentration
  • hallucinations, delusions and paranoia
  • movement problems
  • sleep problems
  • fast or irregular heartbeat – this can be linked to swelling in the feet or ankles, known as oedema
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • dry mouth
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sweating
  • problems with speech
  • skin reactions

For the full range of side effects, see the patient information leaflet that comes with your amantadine medication.

Find out more about the side effects of Parkinson's drugs.

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Drug treatments for Parkinson's (PDF, 756KB)

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Excessive daytime sleepiness

Some Parkinson’s medications can cause excessive daytime sleepiness or sudden onset of sleep. Amantadine, can cause insomnia, which can cause tiredness the following day. Parkinson’s nurse Lee Kieft explains more.

Last updated August 2019. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]rg.uk