There is not enough evidence about the safety and effectiveness of amantadine for people with Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease causes progressive muscle rigidity, tremors and other symptoms. The most common drug used to try and relieve these symptoms is levodopa, but serious physical and psychiatric adverse effects are common. Amantadine is another option, used alone or with levodopa. Amantadine can have serious adverse effects (including psychiatric problems), and people can become resistant to the drug. The review found that there is not enough evidence from trials about the effects of amantadine for people with Parkinson's disease. Adverse effects in trials so far have not been severe, and included skin rash, dry mouth and blurred vision.

Authors' conclusions: 

A considerable amount of evidence on the effectiveness of amantadine has accrued from non-controlled trials, often in patients with Parkinsonian conditions other than idiopathic Parkinson's disease. However, rigorous analysis of the six randomised controlled trials of amantadine reveals insufficient evidence of its efficacy and safety in the treatment of idiopathic Parkinson's disease.

Read the full abstract...

Although levodopa is the most common drug prescribed to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease it is associated with motor and psychiatric side-effects. Consequently, interest has turned to alternative drugs with improved side-effect profiles to replace or augment levodopa. Amantadine, originally used as an antiviral drug, has been shown to improve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.


To compare the efficacy and safety of amantadine therapy (monotherapy or adjuvant therapy) versus placebo in treating people with Parkinson's disease.

Search strategy: 

Electronic searches of The Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2001), MEDLINE (1966-2001), EMBASE (1974-2001), SCISEARCH (1974-2001), BIOSIS (1993-2001), GEROLIT (1979-2001), OLDMEDLINE (1957-1965), LILACS (1982-2001), MedCarib (17th Century - 2001), PASCAL (1973-2001), JICST-EPLUS (1985-2001), RUSSMED (1973-2001), DISSERTATION ABSTRACTS (2000-2001), SIGLE (1980-2001), ISI-ISTP (1990-2001), Aslib Index to Theses (2001), (2001), metaRegister of Controlled Trials (2001), NIDRR (2001) and NRR (2001) were conducted. Grey literature was hand searched and the reference lists of identified studies and reviews examined. The manufacturers of amantadine were contacted.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials comparing amantadine with placebo in the treatment of patients with a clinical diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson's disease.

Data collection and analysis: 

Data was abstracted independently by NC and KD onto standardised forms and disagreements were resolved by discussion.

Main results: 

Six randomised controlled trials were found comparing amantadine monotherapy or adjuvant therapy with placebo in the treatment of idiopathic Parkinson's disease. Five examined amantadine as adjuvant therapy with optimal levels of levodopa or anticholinergics and one examined amantadine as an adjuvant therapy with minimum tolerated levels of anticholinergics or as a monotherapy. Five were double-blind cross-over studies and one was a double-blind parallel group study. In total they examined 215 patients. The parallel group study allowed the randomisation codes to be broken and allowed patients in the placebo group to then receive amantadine. This could have led to bias. One study did not present the results of the placebo arm of the trial, hence we could not determine the difference between the two treatment groups. Two cross-over studies presented the results of the combined data from both treatment and placebo arms. The risk of carry-over effect into the second arm meant that these results could not be analysed. The final two studies presented at least some of their data from the end of the first arm of the trials. However only means were given, without standard deviations, so we could not determine the statistical significance of any difference between the amantadine and placebo groups. Although the authors did report on the side-effects from amantadine (such as livido recticularis, dry mouth and blurred vision), they state that none of them were severe.