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Skin Patch Useful for Early Parkinson’s Disease

Friday December 19, 2003

12/18/03(Archives of Neurology / Reuters Health, US ) - A skin patch containing the drug rotigotine safely improves the movement problems that occur with Parkinson’s disease, according to a report in the Archives of Neurology.

The patch releases a steady dose of the drug, which helps avoid the fluctuating symptoms that can occur with pills, Dr. Karen Blindauer, from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and colleagues note. Other potential benefits are increased compliance and effects that are not influenced by food intake, because the drug is not taken by mouth.

In the new study, 242 patients with early Parkinson’s disease were treated with a patch containing one of four rotigotine doses or with an inactive "placebo" patch. Patches were applied to the abdomen once each day.

As the dose of the patch increased, movement problems improved and the patients were able to function better. The responses were similar to those seen with two commonly used pills--Mirapex (pramipexole) and Requip (ropinirole).

Two rotigotine-treated patients experienced sudden loss of consciousness or onset of sleep while driving. Patients treated with the drug were also more likely to report nausea, vomiting, fatigue and somnolence than those in the placebo group.

Application site reactions were common in all of the groups--even the one that received placebo. The authors suggest that rotating the patch to other body sites may reduce these reactions.

Future studies are warranted, the authors conclude, to determine how the rotigotine patch compares with other drugs and also whether it works in patients with more advanced Parkinson’s disease.