In July 2006 the FDA approved a new irreversible monoamine oxidase inhibitor, Rasagiline, for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.  It will be marketed with the trade name of Azilect by Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries, Ltd. It can be used as monotherapy with early Parkinson’s disease as well as combined with levodopa in later stages.  Trials in animal models of cognition and motor dysfunction indicate potential neuroprotective effects, which has caused speculation that the drug might slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease in some patients.

FDA labelling cautions patients on this medication to be on the special “MAOI diet” that restricts tyramine-rich food and beverages, so as to avoid a hypertensive crisis, but further studies in humans need to be done to see if this dietary restriction is necessary.  Rasagiline is more selective for MAO-B than is selegiline in laboratory studies, but the FDA feels this has to be confirmed in humans before changing the MAOI diet recommendations. For further detailed information, visit www.rasagiline.com.