DynaCirc is a calcium channel blocker of the Dihydropyridine subclass used mainly for blood pressure control but it has an open label that allows it to be prescribed for other treatment like PD. I've been using it for more than a year.
When I first started taking it I immediately noticed certain improvements. My swallowing difficulties and voice pitch problems were eased. Friends asked what had I done to improve my voice so much. Although I stopped taking Mirapex and Selegiline, my tremor actually improved a little; I still had a tremor when I felt emotional. My left arm still didn't swing naturally when I walked. My fibular brevis muscle and the associated flexor tendons continued to pull my toes up in my left leg when I walked or lay in bed.
But I felt good. I didn't think I was getting worse and just maybe I might be getting a little bit better.
When I talked to my MD he looked at the schedule D calcium chanel blockers which are the only options on the Kaiser list and chose Amlodipine from the three listed. I started taking that medication on August 28.
After a few days I began to feel less coordinated, less balanced; my voice was regressing as the muscles in my throat tightened, the trouble I had swallowing was back, my body felt very stiff. I thought these were just side effects from the new medicine; I thought I would get used to it.
After about a week I felt so stiff that I could barely get out of my wife's car. It seemed as if the PD was progressing at a rapid pace each day. After another week I started thinking about what was different: treatments? medication? Then I realized I wasn't taking Dynacirc any more; now I am taking Amlodipine and that was when the deterioration had begun.
I emailed my medical situation to a friend who works in a research lab at local university medical center. In less than an hour he emailed me back that " Amlodipine was an unfortunate choice" as it does not go through the brain blood barrier (BBB). That meant I hadn't received medicinal benefit from the Amlodipine which would affect my PD or did it mean that Amlodipine just didn't work as well for me. Subsequent to posting this article I learned that aplodipine does cross the blood brain barrier. So I guess it wasn't the medication for my Parkinson's symptoms.
I called my MD and had the names of the two calcium channel blockers that go through the BBB ready for him: Nifedipine and Felodipine. I'll start taking Nifedipine (Nifediac) tomorrow morning. It is a generic and considerably less expensive.
2/05/09 note: Dynacirc CR has been back on the market since November 2008
The lesson learned was that if a med you are taking is unavailable - an unusual situation - that you need to ask what about it worked for you and why. Then you won't waste time and possibly jeopardize your health taking a "substitute" which won't perform in the same way.
Additional note: When I switched health insurance we had to go with a generic unless a specific prescription was submitted by the prescribing physician. I briefly tried Isradipine, the generic version of DynaCirc. Among other issues with taking this generic was the fact that it was not a controlled release. Even taking 5mgs 2X a day was not the same. I wrote about my isradipine experience on 2/08/09