If you have Parkinson’s disease and you’re taking levodopa and carbidopa, your doctor may prescribe Ongentys.
Ongentys is used for adults who have “off periods” while taking a combination medication that contains levodopa and carbidopa. (Examples of these combination drugs include Sinemet, Rytary, and Duopa.) An off period occurs when the effects of levodopa and carbidopa wear off before the next dose is due. This causes Parkinson’s symptoms to suddenly come back or get worse.
Ongentys helps prolong the effect of levodopa and carbidopa, which shortens the length of off periods.
To learn more about how Ongentys is used, see the “Is Ongentys used for Parkinson’s disease?” section below.
Ongentys contains the active ingredient opicapone, which is a kind of drug called a catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitor. Ongentys comes as a capsule that you take by mouth.
Ongentys is a brand-name drug. A generic version of Ongentys isn’t currently available.
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Ongentys manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options.
Like most drugs, Ongentys may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Ongentys may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.
Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- other medications you may be taking
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Ongentys. They can also suggest ways to help ease side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Ongentys can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read the patient information for Ongentys.
Mild side effects of Ongentys that have been reported include:
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Ongentys can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Ongentys, call your doctor right away. However, if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Ongentys that have been reported include:
- abnormal body movements*
- low blood pressure*
- sleepiness or suddenly falling asleep*
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there)
- psychosis (an altered sense of reality, which may lead to agitation or aggressive behavior)
- intense and hard-to-control urges for certain activities, such as shopping, gambling, eating, or sex
- high level of creatine kinase (a substance in muscle cells), which may be a sign of kidney problems
- allergic reaction*
- withdrawal symptoms when stopping Ongentys treatment, such as:
* For more information on this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Side effect focus
Learn more about some of the side effects Ongentys may cause.
Low blood pressure
You may have low blood pressure while you’re taking Ongentys. Low blood pressure can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded, and it can lead to fainting. Low blood pressure and fainting were commonly reported with Ongentys use in studies.
What might help
If you feel dizzy or lightheaded while you’re taking Ongentys, try lying down until this passes. Take extra care when moving around if you feel dizzy.
To help avoid dizziness, be sure to stand up slowly if you’ve been sitting or lying down. And make sure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Low blood pressure can get worse if you become dehydrated.
Talk with your doctor if you feel dizzy or lightheaded, or if you faint while taking Ongentys. Your doctor will check your blood pressure. If it’s too low, there a few things they may do. Your doctor may lower your dose of Ongentys. They may also review all the other medications you take and adjust them if needed. Keep in mind that taking Ongentys with other medications that lower blood pressure can make your blood pressure too low.
If changing your dose of Ongentys or other medications doesn’t work, your doctor may switch you from Ongentys to a different medication.
Sleepiness or suddenly falling asleep
You may feel sleepy while taking Ongentys. You may also be at risk for suddenly falling asleep during everyday activities, including while talking or eating. Some people taking Ongentys have suddenly fallen asleep in dangerous situations, such as while driving. And some people have suddenly fallen asleep without any warning signs, such as feeling sleepy beforehand. Suddenly falling asleep can result in accidents, especially if it happens while you’re driving.
It’s not known how often sleepiness or suddenly falling asleep may have occurred in studies of Ongentys.
You may be more at risk for suddenly falling asleep if you:
- take Ongentys with other medications that can cause sleepiness
- have daytime sleepiness due to a sleep disorder, such as insomnia or sleep apnea
- drink alcohol
What might help
Before you start taking Ongentys, talk with your doctor about any factors that may increase your risk for suddenly falling asleep.
If you feel sleepy or suddenly fall asleep while taking Ongentys, tell your doctor as soon as possible. They may review all the other medications you take and adjust them as needed. Or they may have you switch from Ongentys to a different medication.
If you continue taking Ongentys, your doctor will likely recommend that you don’t drive. They may also advise you to avoid activities that could be dangerous if you suddenly fall asleep.
Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medications with Ongentys. Some over-the-counter pain relievers and allergy medications can cause drowsiness. This could increase your risk for suddenly falling asleep.
Abnormal body movements
You may have abnormal body movements that you can’t control while taking Ongentys. This is called dyskinesia. Examples of dyskinesia include:
- twitching of an arm or leg
- head bobbing
Dyskinesia was the most common side effect reported with Ongentys in studies.
Abnormal body movements are also side effects of levodopa and other medications for Parkinson’s disease. These other medications are called dopamine agonists. If you already have dyskinesia, taking Ongentys may worsen the abnormal movements or make them happen more often.
What might help
If you have dyskinesia, talk with your doctor. There are various strategies that may help with this side effect. For example, your doctor may lower your dose of levodopa and carbidopa (Sinemet, Rytary, Duopa). They may also lower the dose of your dopamine agonist, if you take one. Or they may suggest switching from Ongentys to a different medication.
Taking medication, such as amantadine (Gocovri), to treat dyskinesia may also be an option for you.
Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
- flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Ongentys. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Your doctor will explain how you should take Ongentys. They will also explain how much to take and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Ongentys comes as a capsule that you’ll take by mouth. It’s available in two strengths: 25 milligrams (mg) and 50 mg.
The usual dosage of Ongentys is 50 mg, once every day at bedtime.
Taking Ongentys with other drugs
You’ll take Ongentys with a combination medication that contains levodopa and carbidopa, such as Sinemet, Rytary, or Duopa. Ongentys slows the breakdown of levodopa, so it helps levodopa act for a longer time in your brain. This means that Ongentys helps control your Parkinson’s symptoms for an extended time.
Questions about taking Ongentys
Here are the answers to some common questions you may have about taking Ongentys.
- What if I miss a dose of Ongentys? If you miss a dose at bedtime, skip that dose. Take your next dose as usual the next day at bedtime. Don’t take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.
- Will I need to use Ongentys long term? Yes, Ongentys is meant as a long-term treatment. You’ll take it for as long your doctor thinks it’s safe and effective for you.
- Can Ongentys be chewed, crushed, or split? No, Ongentys is meant to be swallowed whole. If you have trouble swallowing the capsules, talk with your pharmacist.
- Should I take Ongentys with food? No, you should take Ongentys on an empty stomach. Don’t eat food in the hour before or after taking your dose. Taking Ongentys with food can affect how your body absorbs the drug.
- How long does Ongentys take to work? Ongentys starts working shortly after you take your first dose. You should notice that your off periods are shorter than before, and your Parkinson’s symptoms are controlled for longer.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Ongentys and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
- How will Ongentys affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
- If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
Ongentys is used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Specifically, it’s prescribed for adults with Parkinson’s disease who are taking a combination medication that contains levodopa and carbidopa. Examples of these combination drugs include Sinemet, Rytary, and Duopa.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that gets worse over time. (“Neurological” means that the brain or nerves are involved.) The disease is caused by a gradual breakdown of nerve cells that produce dopamine in a certain part of your brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical that allows you to make smooth, coordinated muscle movements. A lack of dopamine can lead to symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. These symptoms can include:
- tremor (shaking in part of your body that you can’t control)
- slowed movements
- balance problems
Parkinson’s disease is treated by replacing the lost dopamine in your brain, usually with a combination drug containing levodopa and carbidopa. Ongentys is prescribed for use in adults who have “off periods” while taking levodopa and carbidopa. An off period occurs when the effects of levodopa and carbidopa wear off before your next dose is due. This causes your Parkinson’s symptoms to suddenly come back or get worse.
Ongentys treats Parkinson’s disease by prolonging the effects of levodopa and carbidopa. It shortens the length of your off periods, so your symptoms are controlled for longer.
You’ll need to consider several factors before taking Ongentys. These include:
- other treatments you’re having
- other medical conditions you may have
- your general health
Things to discuss with your doctor if you’re considering taking Ongentys for Parkinson’s disease are described below.
Taking medications, vaccines, foods, and other things with a certain drug can affect how the drug works in your body. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Ongentys, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take (including prescription and over-the-counter types). Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Ongentys.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
Ongentys can interact with several types of drugs. These drugs include:
- antidepressant drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors
- sleeping pills
- drugs that cause drowsiness, such as certain pain relievers, anxiety drugs, or allergy drugs
- the allergic-reaction drug epinephrine (EpiPen, Adrenaclick, Auvi-Q, Symjepi)
This list does not contain all types of drugs that may interact with Ongentys. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur with use of Ongentys.
Ongentys may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Ongentys. Factors to consider include those in the list below.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Ongentys or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t take Ongentys. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
- Certain hormone-producing tumors. You shouldn’t take Ongentys if you have a tumor that produces hormones called catecholamines. Examples of this kind of tumor include pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
- Sleep disorders. If you have daytime sleepiness due to a sleep disorder, you may have a higher risk for sleepiness or suddenly falling asleep while taking Ongentys. Talk with your doctor about whether Ongentys is right for you. Types of sleep disorders can include:
- insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- narcolepsy (falling asleep suddenly and unexpectedly)
- sleep apnea (interrupted breathing during sleep)
- Dyskinesia. If you have dyskinesia (abnormal body movements), Ongentys could make your symptoms worse. Talk with your doctor about whether Ongentys is a good choice for you.
- History of impulse-control disorder. Impulse-control disorders include strong urges to shop, gamble, eat, and engage in sex. If you’ve ever had intense and hard-to-control urges for such activities, Ongentys could make them worse. Talk with your doctor about whether Ongentys is right for you.
- History of psychotic illness. Ongentys may cause psychosis (an altered sense of reality) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there). Psychotic illnesses include schizophrenia and mania. These conditions may lead to agitation or aggressive behavior. If you have a history of psychotic illness, your doctor will likely recommend a drug other than Ongentys for your Parkinson’s disease.
- Liver problems. If you have liver problems, you could have an increased risk for side effects with Ongentys. Talk with your doctor about whether the drug is right for you. You may need a dose of Ongentys that’s lower than usual.
- Kidney problems. If you have severe kidney problems, you could have an increased risk for side effects with Ongentys. Talk with your doctor about whether Ongentys is right for you.
Use with alcohol
Drinking alcohol can lower your blood pressure and make you feel dizzy. It can also make you feel sleepy. Both Ongentys and a combination drug of levodopa and carbidopa (such as Sinemet, Rytary, or Duopa) can also cause these side effects. The drugs levodopa and carbidopa are used with Ongentys.
Drinking alcohol can worsen any sleepiness or dizziness you may have while taking Ongentys with levodopa and carbidopa. It’s best to avoid alcohol or limit how much you drink while taking these medications.
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much is safe for you to drink during your treatment.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It’s not known if Ongentys is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. This drug hasn’t been studied during pregnancy or in females* who are breastfeeding.
If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor. You should also talk with them if you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed. Your doctor can advise you on the possible benefits and risks of taking Ongentys.
* In this article, we use the term “female” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.
Don’t take more Ongentys than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.
What to do in case you take too much Ongentys
Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Ongentys. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or use its online resource. However, if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.
If you take a combination medication containing levodopa and carbidopa (such as Sinemet, Rytary, or Duopa) for Parkinson’s, you may have “off periods.” An off period occurs when the effects of levodopa and carbidopa wear off before your next dose is due. If you have off periods, talk with your doctor about whether Ongentys or a different treatment option is best for you.
Things to discuss can include your health history and your treatment history. You can also talk about what benefits you can expect from different treatments and their possible side effects.
Some questions you might want to ask your doctor include:
- What other medications are available for treating off periods?
- Could I be a candidate for deep brain stimulation?
- How does Ongentys compare with other treatments?
- Can I take Ongentys if I’m taking medication for high blood pressure?
If you have more questions about Ongentys, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Will my other medications increase my risk for sleepiness with Ongentys?Anonymous patient
A: It’s possible. Ongentys can sometimes cause sleepiness as a side effect. Certain substances and other medications can also make you sleepy. So if you take Ongentys with them, your risk for sleepiness may increase.
Examples of substances and other medications that can increase your risk for sleepiness are listed below:
- antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan)
- dopamine agonists, such as pramipexole (Mirapex) and rotigotine (Neupro)
- hypnotics (sleeping pills), such as zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta)
- opioids, such as hydrocodone-acetaminophen (Norco) and oxycodone
Use of these drugs can affect daily activities, causing you to fall asleep suddenly and without any warning. This can lead to dangerous situations, such as accidents while driving or operating heavy machinery. Before you start taking a drug, an herb, or a supplement, it’s important to ask your doctor and pharmacist if it’s safe to do so.Melissa Badowski, PharmD, MPH, FCCPAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.