We define the meaning of early and late treatments and present arguments opposed to early treatment with levodopa. These are based on the development of complications with long-term Sinemet which include clinical fluctuations, loss of efficacy, and painful dystonic cramps. By delaying the onset of levodopa therapy until the symptoms require this most potent of antiparkinsonian agents, we can delay the onset of these disabling problems. Also, using as low a dosage as possible should reduce the risk of any long-term complication related to accumulative dose.
We also present the serial evaluations of 26 patients followed for as long as 7.5 years before levodopa therapy was initiated. Three scoring scales on these patients are compared. Arguments are presented which suggest that the Columbia University and the ADL scales are superior to the UCLA scale, and more closely approximate the curve of the progressive clinical disability of the disease as assessed by global evaluation. We conclude that the ultimate answer to any clinical debate must come from well-designed, controlled studies to assess the differences between two treatment modalities.