Rasagiline

Rasagiline is used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Find out how to take it safely and the possible side effects. Rasagiline is also called Azilect.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Monoamine oxidase type B (MAO–B) inhibitor
  • Belongs to a group of medicines that treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease
  • Azilect®

What is rasagiline?

Rasagiline is used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, or Parkinson-like symptoms such as tremor, shakiness, stiffness and difficulty moving.

Rasagiline can be used on its own in early Parkinson’s when your motor symptoms are controlled and mild. It is also used alongside other treatments which contain a medicine called levodopa. When a dose of levodopa starts to wear off, the symptoms of Parkinson's disease can return. This is known as an 'end-of-dose fluctuation'. Taking rasagiline helps to prevent this problem.

Rasagiline belongs to a group of medicines called MAO-B inhibitors. MAO-B is an enzyme that breaks down dopamine. Rasagiline works by stopping this enzyme so that more dopamine becomes available to treat your symptoms. Read more about medicines for Parkinson's.

Dose

  • In Aotearoa New Zealand, rasagiline is available as 1 mg tablets.
  • The usual dose is 1 tablet once a day. 
  • The effects of rasagiline are not immediate, it can take 2-3 weeks to work.
  • Always take your rasagiline exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much rasagiline to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take rasagiline

  • Timing: You can take rasagiline before or after meals. Take your tablet at the same time each day. Swallow the tablets whole with a full glass of water. 
  • Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take two doses at the same time. 
  • Keep taking rasagiline regularly: Do not stop taking rasagiline without talking to your doctor. Stopping suddenly can cause problems and worsen your symptoms.
  • Smoking: Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are smoking or intend to stop smoking. Smoking could decrease the amount of rasagiline in your blood.
  • Interactions with other medicines: Rasagiline interacts with some medications, herbal supplements and rongoā Māori, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting rasagiline and before starting any new products.

What are the side effects of rasagiline?

Like all medicines, rasagiline can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Feeling or being sick (nausea)
  • Take your doses with or after food.
  • Headache
  • This is quite common when you start rasagiline.
  • Tell your doctor if it bothers you.
  • Falling asleep suddenly during daily activities (eg, talking on the phone or driving)
  • This sleep effect can occur without any feelings of drowsiness beforehand, and can happen anytime during treatment with this medication
  • Tell your doctor.
  • Do not drive or use tools until you know how this medicine affects you and until these have stopped happening.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Feeling dizzy or faint when you stand up (due to a sudden drop in blood pressure)
  • Be careful when getting up from either lying down or sitting, to avoid falls.
  • Usually decreases after 2 months.
  • Tell your doctor.
  • Impulsive types of behaviour or intense urges that are difficult to control, eg, binge eating, gambling and increased sexual urges
  •  Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116
  • Unusual skin lumps or moles that are new or have changed
  • Rasagiline can cause an increased risk of skin cancer.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116

Learn more

The following links provide further information on rasagiline. Be aware that websites from other countries may contain information that differs from Aotearoa New Zealand recommendations.

Azilect Consumer information leaflet
Medication used in the treatment of Parkinson's Parkinson's New Zealand
Parkinson's and complementary therapies Parkinson's New Zealand
Rasagiline Parkinson’s UK 
Impulse and compulsive behaviours in Parkinson's Parkinson’s UK

References

  1. Rasagiline New Zealand Formulary
  2. Azilect UK Product Datasheet
Credits: Maya Patel, MPharm PGDipClinPharm, Auckland. Reviewed By: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist Last reviewed: 26 Oct 2021