Selegiline for Parkinson's disease (Eldepryl, Zelapar)

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The usual dose is one tablet daily.

Keep your regular appointments with your doctor so your progress can be monitored.

As your condition improves and your body movements become easier, be careful not to overdo physical activities.

Do not stop taking this medicine without speaking to your doctor first - stopping suddenly can cause problems.

Type of medicineA monoamine-oxidase-B inhibitor
Used forParkinson's disease
Also calledEldepryl®; Zelapar®
Available asTablets, oral liquid medicine, and dissolve-on-the-tongue (lyophilisate) tablets

The symptoms of Parkinson's disease - tremor, stiffness and slow movement - are due to there being less of a chemical called dopamine in your brain. Selegiline works by increasing the effect of dopamine in the brain, and this helps to ease these typical symptoms.

You may be prescribed selegiline as a treatment on its own, or alongside other medicines for Parkinson's disease which contain a medicine called levodopa. When it is prescribed with other medicines, selegiline helps to prevent some of the problems which can occur with these other treatments. These problems may be referred to as 'end-of-dose' fluctuations, or 'on-off' symptoms.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking selegiline it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have a stomach or duodenal ulcer.
  • If you have high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, or angina pain.
  • If you have had a mental health problem (in particular, psychosis).
  • If you have a problem with the way your liver works, or with the way your kidneys work.
  • If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about selegiline and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take selegiline exactly as your doctor tells you to. The usual dose is one tablet a day, in the morning. When you first start taking it your doctor is likely to suggest you start on the lower-strength (5 mg) tablet. You may then be prescribed the higher-strength (10 mg) tablet after a couple of weeks. You can take selegiline 5 mg and 10 mg tablets before or after food.
  • Selegiline is also available as a tablet that dissolves on the tongue. These are called lyophilisate tablets; their brand name is Zelapar®. If you are prescribed this type of tablet, place one (1.25 mg) tablet on your tongue each morning before breakfast, and allow it to dissolve there before you swallow. Do not rinse your mouth or have anything to drink for at least five minutes after taking the tablet.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • As your condition improves and your body movements become easier, be careful not to overdo physical activities. You should increase your activity gradually to allow your body to adjust to any changes in balance, circulation and co-ordination.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice. Your doctor may recommend that you do not drink alcohol while you are on this medicine.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take alongside this medicine. Selegiline should not be taken with strong painkillers and medicines containing sympathomimetics (present in some remedies for coughs and colds, and in decongestant nasal sprays and tablets).
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking selegiline.
  • Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems and your doctor will want you to reduce your dose gradually if this becomes necessary. Do not stop taking the medicine without speaking to your doctor first.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with selegiline. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common selegiline side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
Sore mouthLet your doctor know about this
Common selegiline side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling sick, stomach upsetStick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy meals. Drink plenty of water
Headache, other aches and painsAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Feeling light-headed when getting up from a sitting or lying positionGetting up and moving more slowly should help. If this continues, speak with your doctor
Feeling tired, shaky or dizzyDo not drive or use tools or machines until you feel better
Uncontrolled muscle movementsLet your doctor know about this
Sleeping problems, feeling confused or depressed, hallucinations, blocked nose, sore throat, sweatingIf any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Eldepryl®, Orion Pharma (UK) Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated April 2014.
  • Manufacturer's PIL, Zelapar®; Cephalon (UK) Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated March 2012.
  • British National Formulary; 67th Edition (March 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
3356 (v24)
Last Checked:
23/06/2014
Next Review:
22/06/2017
The Information Standard - certified member

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