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Patch for Parkinson's sufferers

10th April 2006

10042006_brain1.jpgThe Neupro patch, made by Schwarz Pharma, has been licensed for use in the UK. It is a new skin patch which may offer relief to patients in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.

It delivers a drug that mimics the effects of a naturally occurring brain chemical, dopamine, which is in short supply in people with Parkinson's.  Dopamine controls connections between nerve cells, leading to symptoms such as tremors.

At any one time, 120,000 people in the UK have Parkinson's, with between 8,000 and 10,000 new cases of Parkinson's diagnosed in the UK every year. Ninety five per cent of cases are in those aged over 40.

Until now, patients have mostly taken a dopamine agonist - an agent that acts directly on the dopamine receptors in the brain - in tablet form, through injections or a pump. The Neupro patch contains a new dopamine agonist, called rotigotine. It delivers a continuous dose of the drug over 24 hours, so patients only having to change the patch once a day.

Doctors say it could help people who have problems swallowing pills and those with digestion problems that stop oral drugs being fully absorbed.

Robert Meadowcroft, director of policy, campaigns and information at the Parkinson's Disease Society, said that clinical trials to date have shown the patch to be safe and effective in early stage Parkinson's patients, and a potential option for long-term benefit. It gave clinicians and patients another treatment option to consider, he added.

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