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New Drug for Parkinson's Disease

New Drug for Parkinson's Disease

A new drug has been approved by the FDA to treat early Parkinson's disease. I always thought it was a disease that afflicted older folks, but remembered Michael J. Fox was only 30 years old when he announced that he had the disease.

With Parkinson's disease the substantia nigra, a part of the brain, begins to malfunction and eventually die, disrupting then halting the production of the chemical dopamine. And dopamine is important since it sends messages to your brain telling your body when and how to move. When a person has Parkinson's, those messages are delivered more slowly, which explains the trembling commonly seen in Parkinson’s patients.

This new drug called Neupro is actually in patch form that you apply once a day. It delivers the drug called rotigotine, which works by mimicking the action of dopamine in the brain.

Previously, patients would have to take pills orally. When the medicine wore off, symptoms would worsen until more pills were taken. The patch is more effective because it offers a continuous release of the drug.

There have been a few reported side effects including skin irritation where the patch is placed, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and insomnia. The FDA said that these are typical with this kind of drug.

About 1 million people in the U.S. have Parkinson's disease. Wow - that is more than I would have thought. Plus it is chronic (meaning there is no cure), and progressive (meaning it keeps getting worse). This disease impairs people's ability to control their movements, and also impairs their speech. It's great to hear there's a new drug that could help people deal with their symptoms better than taking oral pills.


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