FDA Approves New Parkinson's Treatment

Duopa is first Parkinson disease treatment to provide 16 hours continuous treatment

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new treatment for Parkinson's disease, and it came three months ahead of schedule.

The FDA approved AbbVie Inc.'s combination treatment Duopa. According to AbbVie, Duopa is the first treatment for motor symptoms to be effective for 16 continuous hours.

"Due to the progressive nature of Parkinson's disease, it can be difficult to treat over time, especially in the advanced stages," said Joyce Oberdorf, president and CEO of the National Parkinson Foundation, in an AbbVie press release. "Our organization is encouraged by the introduction of a new therapy that may provide another treatment option for affected patients and families."

Parkinson's disease is a nervous system disorder that affects movement. People with Parkinson's often have tremors, stiffness and slowed movement. Duopa is meant to treat these movement problems.

Duopa contains the same active ingredients — carbidopa and levodopa — as already available oral medications. But because Parkinson's can slow the emptying of the stomach, these oral medications may not leave the stomach and be absorbed by the small intestine at the intended timing. Duopa is administered with a small infusion pump that delivers treatment directly to the small intestine, thus bypassing the stomach.

"This medication will be used by only a very small number of patients with Parkinson’s disease," said Roger Kurlan, MD, Director of the Movement Disorders Program at Atlantic Neuroscience Institute.

"It is a gel formulation of the standard medication for Parkinson's, levodopa. The gel must be administered via a pump into a tube that is surgically placed through the abdomen into the patient’s intestine. For some patients, this is an option to treat bothersome 'on' and 'off' motor fluctuations in selected patients," Dr. Kurlan told dailyRx News.

As many as 1 million Americans have Parkinson's disease, according to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation. That's more than than the combined number of people living with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease.


Review Date: 
January 12, 2015
Last Updated:
January 13, 2015