Pergolide versus levodopa monotherapy in early Parkinson's disease patients: The PELMOPET study



Dopamine agonists are used as initial treatment in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) to reduce incidence and severity of motor complications. This paradigm is based on long-term studies, allowing “rescue” therapy with levodopa. The present strict monotherapy study (PELMOPET, the acronym for the pergolide-versus-L-dopa-monotherapy-and-positron-emission-tomography trial) evaluated the efficacy and safety of pergolide versus levodopa without levodopa “rescue” medication. This multicenter, double-blind, randomized, 3-year trial compared pergolide monotherapy (n = 148) with levodopa monotherapy (n = 146) in dopamine-naive patients with early PD (Hoehn and Yahr stage 1–2.5). Primary efficacy measures were clinical efficacy, severity and time to onset of motor complications, and disease progression. During the 3 years, severity of motor complications was significantly lower and time to onset of dyskinesia was significantly delayed in the group receiving pergolide (3.23 mg/day) compared with those receiving levodopa (504 mg/day). However, time to onset of motor complications was not longer in patients receiving pergolide after 3 years. Symptomatic relief (assessed by Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale [UPDRS], UPDRS II, and III, Clinical Global Impressions [CGI] severity, and CGI and Patient Global Impressions [PGI] improvement) was significantly greater in patients receiving levodopa. Adverse events led to discontinuation of therapy in 17.6% of pergolide patients and 9.6% of levodopa patients. This is the first study comparing strict monotherapy with a dopamine agonist versus levodopa in previously untreated early PD. In principle, both levodopa and a dopamine agonist such as pergolide seem to be suitable options as initial PD therapy. The choice remains with the treating physician based on the different efficacy and adverse event profiles. © 2005 Movement Disorder Society