December 1998

Information for Consumers

Tasmar and Concerns About Liver Toxicity

Around 100,000 patients worldwide have used Tasmar (tolcapone) tablets to treat Parkinson’s disease. Tasmar has significantly improved the quality of life in some patients, who have not been helped by other medications. However, it is now known that 3 overseas patients have died of liver failure associated with Tasmar and a further 19 patients have experienced liver toxicity.

Medsafe discussed the benefits of Tasmar and potential risks of liver toxicity with specialists in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and liver disease, and a representative of the Parkinsonism Society. It was agreed that Medsafe put new conditions on the prescribing of Tasmar to protect the wellbeing of patients.

From 17 Decmber 1998, only specialist neurologists, geriatricians and general physicians may prescribe Tasmar. General practitioners are not permitted to prescribe this medicine. Pharmacists can dispense a prescription for Tasmar written by a general practitioner before 17 December 1998, or any repeats owing on a prescription, but patients must see a specialist to get a new prescription. Patients need to ask their general practitioner for a referral to an appropriate specialist.

Before a new prescription is written, specialists will explain the risks associated with Tasmar (particularly liver toxicity) and the need to have regular blood tests to monitor liver function. A blood test is needed before commencing treatment (for new patients), every 2 weeks for the first 3 months and then every 4 weeks thereafter.

Patients are required to give their consent to taking Tasmar. If you have any queries about Tasmar or alternative medication, then ask the specialist. It is important that you understand the benefits and risks of taking Tasmar.

Consumer Medicine Information about Tasmar is available on this web site, or ask your pharmacist, general practitioner or specialist. They have all been informed about Tasmar and its potential to cause liver toxicity.

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