6.7.1 Bromocriptine and other dopaminergic drugs


The ergoline dopamine agonists should only be used in exceptional circumstances and after the non-ergoline agonist have been tried.

Fibrotic reactions: Ergot-derived dopamine-receptor agonists, bromocriptine, cabergoline, and pergolide, have been associated with pulmonary, retroperitoneal, and pericardial fibrotic reactions.

Exclude cardiac valvulopathy with echocardiography before starting treatment with these ergot derivatives for Parkinson's disease or chronic endocrine disorders (excludes suppression of lactation); it may also be appropriate to measure the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and serum creatinine and to obtain a chest X-ray. Patients should be monitored for dyspnoea, persistent cough, chest pain, cardiac failure, and abdominal pain or tenderness. If long-term treatment is expected, then lung-function tests may also be helpful. Patients taking cabergoline or pergolide should be regularly monitored for cardiac fibrosis by echocardiography (within 3–6 months of initiating treatment and subsequently at 6–12 month intervals).

Ergot derivatives (bromocriptine, cabergoline and pergolide) act by direct stimulation of surviving dopamine receptors. Although effective, they have no advantages over levodopa. They should be reserved for patients in whom levodopa alone is no longer adequate or who, despite careful titration, cannot tolerate levodopa. They are sometimes useful in reducing "off" periods in ameliorating fluctuations in the later stage of Parkinson's disease.

Excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden onset of sleep can occur with dopaminergic drugs. Patients starting treatment with these drugs should be warned of the possibility of these effects and of the need to exercise caution when driving or operating machinery.

  • Tablets 1mg, 2.5mg (£67.62 = 100 x 1mg)
  • Capsule 5mg, 10mg (£58.38 = 10mg three times a day)


  • Prevention or suppression of lactation
  • Parkinson's disease


  • Prevention or suppression of lactation, 2.5mg on day 1 (prevention) or daily for 2–3 days (suppression); then 2.5mg twice daily for 14 days
  • Parkinson's disease, first week 1–1.25mg at night, second week 2–2.5mg at night, third week 2.5mg twice daily, fourth week 2.5mg 3 times daily then increasing by 2.5mg every 3–14 days according to response to a usual range of 10–30mg daily
  • Hypogonadism, galactorrhoea, infertility, initially 1–1.25 mg at bedtime, increased gradually; usual dose 7.5 mg daily in divided doses, increased if necessary to max. 30 mg daily, usual dose in infertility without hyperprolactinaemia, 2.5 mg twice daily
  • Acromegaly, initially 1–1.25 mg at bedtime, increase gradually to 5 mg every 6 hours
  • Prolactinoma, initially 1–1.25 mg at bedtime; increased gradually to 5 mg every 6 hours (occasional patients may require up to 30 mg daily)


  1. Bromocriptine has a known safety profile in pregnancy; further data is required to warrant prescribing cabergoline under such circumstances.
  • Tablets 500 micrograms, 1mg, 2mg (£73.12 = 20 x 2mg tablets)


  • Alone or as adjunct to co-beneldopa or co-careldopa in Parkinson's disease where dopamine-receptor agonists other than ergot derivative not appropriate
  • Endocrine disorders


  • Prevention of lactation, during first day postpartum, 1mg as a single dose; suppression of established lactation 250 micrograms every 12 hours for 2 days
  • Parkinson's disease, initially 1mg daily, increased by increments of 0.5–1mg at 7 or 14 day intervals; maximum 3mg daily
  • Hyperprolactinaemic disorders, 500 micrograms weekly (as a single dose or as 2 divided doses on separate days) increased at monthly intervals in steps of 500 micrograms until optimal therapeutic response (usually 1 mg weekly, range 0.25–2 mg weekly) with monthly monitoring of serum prolactin levels; reduce initial dose and increase more gradually if patient intolerant; over 1 mg weekly give as divided doses; up to 4.5 mg weekly has been used in hyperprolactinaemic patients


  1. Cabergoline has an advantage of administration on a once weekly basis although it is more expensive than bromocriptine. Evidence suggests it is better tolerated.
  2. Please remember to optimize patient's prescription as their doses change; two 1mg tablets are considerably more costly than one 2mg tablet.


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