Safinamide is a prescription approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This is used with another medication such as Carbidopa or Levodopa. Safinamide is in the class of drugs called monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. This increases the levels of certain natural substances in the brain. That it can help improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This can as well help decrease the amount of ‘off-time’ or periods of slow movement or stiffness. Safinamide comes as a tablet for oral administration. Each is available in the dosage strengths of 50 mg and 100 mg. 

Parkinson’s disease is a condition that affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Symptoms generally develop slowly over years. The progression of the symptoms is frequently a bit different from one person to another. It is due to the diversity of the disease. People with this condition may experience:

  • Bradykinesia
  • Tremor mostly at rest and defined as a pill-rolling tremor in hands
  • Gait and balance problems
  • Limb rigidity 

Parkinson’s disease has different stages:

Stage 1: The symptoms are mild and only seen on one side of the body. There is usually minimal or no functional impairment. The symptoms may be so mild that doesn’t seek medical attention. Some symptoms may include: tremor, rigidity, one hand or leg may feel clumsier, and one side of the face may be affected that it impacts the expression. 

Stage 2: This is characterized by symptoms on both sides of the body or at the midline without impairment to balance. At this stage, it may develop months or years after stage 1. The symptoms may include decreased blinking, loss of facial expression, soft voice, and speech abnormalities. However, at this stage, the person with the disease is still able to do tasks of daily living. 

Stage 3: This stage is considerably a mild-stage. Stage 3 is characterized by slowness of movement and loss of balance. Balance is compromised by the inability to make the rapid and automatic adjustments needed to prevent falling. Falls are common at this stage. In this stage, the patient is still fully independent in their daily living activities like hygiene, dressing, and eating. 

Stage 4: The patient at this stage is unable to live an independent life. They already need assistance with some activities of daily living. 

Stage 5: This is the most advanced and is characterized by an inability to rise from a chair or get out of the bed without help. They may tend to fall when standing or turning. They may freeze or stumble when walking. At this stage, assistance is needed to lessen the risk of falling and help the patient with all daily activities. 

How does Safinamide work?

Safinamide works by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a natural substance that is needed to control movement. This drug is an inhibitor of monoamine oxidase inhibitor. The inhibition of MAO-B activity is by blocking the catabolism of dopamine. It is thought to result in an increase in dopamine levels and a subsequent increase in dopaminergic activity in the brain.

Dopamine is significant for several behaviors of our daily life. It plays a role in how we move as well as what we eat, how we learn and even whether we become addicted to drugs. Dopamine is made in the dopaminergic neurons. It is in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain which is the substantia nigra pars compacta and the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. Dopamine decreases the effect of the indirect pathway and increases the actions of the direct pathway within the basal ganglia. Once there is a lack of dopamine in the brain, movements may become hindered and uncoordinated. On the other side, if there is additional dopamine, the brain causes the body to make excessive movements. 

How to use Safinamide?

This medication is to be taken by mouth. Each tablet is to be swallowed whole with a glass of water. The dosage is based on your condition, age, weight, and response to the treatment. Your doctor may instruct you to start at a lower dose and gradually increase it. 

This product is taken usually once a day. You may have each dose with or without a meal. Use Safinamide exactly as it is given by your doctor. You must not take more or less than it is prescribed. To help you remember, take it at the same time and in the same way each day. If you missed a dose, do not take tow dose to make up for the missed dose. Call your doctor for further instructions instead. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this is suddenly stopped.  

What are the side effects of Safinamide?

Common side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Falls 
  • Abnormal movements 
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Cough
  • Indigestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Falling asleep during daily activities 

Call your doctor right away if these side effects occur:

  • Vision changes
  • Worsening or more frequent body movements that you cannot control 
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusional beliefs
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

Warnings and Precautions

  • Let your doctor know if you ever had an allergic reaction to Safinamide. This may have an inactive ingredient that causes an allergic reaction. Tell as well to your doctor if you have any allergies. 
  • Inform your doctor about other prescriptions or non-prescription you are taking. It may be vitamins, herbal products, or nutritional supplements. 
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your doctor first before taking this medication. 
  • Ask your doctor first before taking Safinamide if you are breastfeeding. 
  • Do not drink alcohol while you are taking Safinamide. Remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this medication. 
  • Tell your doctor if you have liver disease. Your doctor will probably tell you not to take Safinamide. 
  • It is not recommended to take amphetamines, certain antidepressants, and opioids while you are taking this drug. 
  • Keep this away from the heat, moisture, and reach of children or pets.