Existing med shows promise for Parkinson’s

The newest treatment for Parkinson’s disease is more than 150 years old.

New research has found the drug apomorphine, first produced in 1865, may provide relief for people with advanced Parkinson’s. The phase III study findings were presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 69th annual meeting in Boston.

Researchers recruited 107 people with advanced Parkinson’s disease and administered either apomorphine subcutaneous infusion or a placebo saline infusion. The infusion was administered for 14 to 18 hours a day through a small portable pump similar to the kind used for type 1 diabetes.

They found those who were given apomorphine had on average about 2.5 fewer hours of “off” time than those who were given the placebo. Improvement was seen within the first week of treatment. Those who received apomorphine also reported an increase of “on” time without dyskinesia, abnormal involuntary movements.

“If a person with Parkinson’s disease can reduce their ‘off’ times, that can have a great impact on their everyday life,” said study author Regina Katzenschlager, MD, of Danube Hospital, which is affiliated with the Medical University of Vienna, in a press release. “In some patients in the trial, the insecurity of unpredictable periods of incapacity was completely alleviated.”

Apomorphine was first used to treat advanced Parkinson’s disease in the United States in 1950. Usage increased in the 1990s after European doctors started using subcutaneous infusions to treat fluctuations in mobility that could not be controlled by the pills.

Britannia Pharmaceuticals Ltd., the maker of apomorphine, supported the study. 

Topics: Clinical