You can find out more about NPF's National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, by also visiting the NPF Center of Excellence, University of Florida Center for Movement Disorders & Neurorestoration.

If you ask a Parkinson’s disease (PD) patient to place a single day’s pills into the palm of one hand, you will find in most cases that it a harder task than expected. Though some early stage (PD) patients require only two or three doses of a dopaminergic drug each day, as the disease progresses most patients will need many more pills. Therefore, any new therapies with the potential to lessen the “pill burden” would be a welcome addition to the PD medication arsenal. In this month’s What’s Hot column we will discuss patches applied to the skin (transdermal), and intestinal gel formulations. Both of these therapies have the potential to lessen the medication burden placed on the PD patient.

Transdermal dopaminergic patches have important advantages over pill formulations and injectable medications. A patch formulation provides a more constant drug delivery, offers better compliance, avoids drug-food interactions, and offers the possibility of a once a day alternative. Additionally, pills may lose some clinical effectiveness when they are processed in the liver. The idea of a patch for a disease such as PD, where there are multiple drugs and multiple doses, is therefore very attractive to patients and to caregivers.

The transdermal patch Neupro® is a dopamine agonist that was recently removed from pharmacies by the FDA because of a manufacturing and quality control issue (crystallization of the drug on the patch). Recently, in 2012, following improvements and a study of the new formulation, it was reintroduced to the U.S. market.

Multiple pharmaceutical trials over many years have demonstrated that the effectiveness of the patch is similar to oral preparations of other dopamine agonists (e.g. pramipexole and roperinerole), and that the patch only needs to be applied once a day. Sleep disturbances and early morning functioning may be added advantages for some patch users, probably due to the continuous and slow delivery of the drug. The side effects of the patch were roughly identical to the other dopamine agonists, and all of the issues that occurred with the other dopamine agonists, were also observed with Rotigotine (e.g. leg swelling, nausea, sleepiness, impulse control, behavioral issues, hallucinations, etc.). Additionally, the patch formulations have been associated with local skin reactions in some patients. Recently, extended release preparations of the pill form of dopamine agonists have become available, and can be an option for patients with a reaction to the patch or a preference for a pill.

Another new therapy fresh out of clinical trials in the United States is Duodopa®. Duodopa was approved for use in Europe in 2004. Though we await the official published study results, late breaking data presented at the American Academy of Neurology conference in New Orleans (April 2012) suggested that there were significant benefits in improving “on” time and in reducing on-off fluctuations and dyskinesia. This therapy is pump-based and requires the patient to wear an external large “box” in the belt region which is used to administer the intestinal gel preparation through a surgically placed intestinal tube. One advantage of this type of therapy is that it does not require brain surgery (i.e. like DBS), however, Duodopa does require a very attentive caregiver who will need to attend to device management, skin management (for the tube), and also attend to medication refills. Early studies of Duodopa have revealed high rates of device-related problems with the intestinal tube (e.g. clogging, kinking, moving out of the correct location). Despite these tube related issues, Duodopa will likely be a great choice for many patients with on-off fluctuations, and will in most cases allow discontinuation of oral PD drugs.

In summary, all new PD therapies that can address the “pill burden” will be a welcome addition to the PD treatment options. Patients interested in the patch should be aware that the side effects are almost identical to oral dopamine agonists, and therefore great caution should be used in elderly patients and in those with histories of hallucinations, impulse control, and other behavioral or thinking disorders. The patch will not serve as a replacement for levodopa therapy in most PD cases, but it can augment levodopa in carefully selected patients. For those interested in the Duodopa pump they should keep in mind that is not yet available in the U.S. The pump could be an option for patients with severe on-off fluctuations and dyskinesia who cannot be easily managed with available oral/patch therapies and also may be an option for those who do not wish to undergo brain surgery.

Selected References:

Sprenger FS, Seppi K, Poewe W. Drug safety evaluation of rotigotine. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2012 May;11(3):503-12. Epub 2012 Apr 3. PubMed PMID: 22468676.

Elmer LW, Surmann E, Boroojerdi B, Jankovic J. Long-term safety and tolerability of rotigotine transdermal system in patients with early-stage idiopathic Parkinson's disease: A prospective, open-label extension study. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2012 Feb 9. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22326237.

Elshoff JP, Braun M, Andreas JO, Middle M, Cawello W. Steady-state plasma concentration profile of transdermal rotigotine: an integrated analysis of three, open-label, randomized, phase I multiple dose studies. Clin Ther. 2012 Apr;34(4):966-78. Epub 2012 Mar 7. PubMed PMID: 22401642.

Perez-Lloret S, Rey MV, Ratti PL, Rascol O. Rotigotine transdermal patch for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2012 Feb 9. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-8206.2012.01028.x. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22320451.

Nyholm D, Klangemo K, Johansson A. Levodopa/carbidopa intestinal gel infusion long-term therapy in advanced Parkinson's disease. Eur J Neurol. 2012 Feb 23. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2012.03679.x. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22360705.

Krones E, Zollner G, Petritsch W. Knotting of percutaneous endoscopic jejunostomy feeding tubes in two patients with Parkinson's disease and continuous Duodopa® treatment. Z Gastroenterol. 2012 Feb;50(2):213-6. Epub 2012 Feb 1. PubMed PMID: 22298101.

Posted: 5/2/2012 11:25:22 AM by Cathy Whitlock


Browse current and archived What's Hot in PD? articles, the National Parkinson Foundation's monthly blog for people with Parkinson's written by our National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun. 

September 2014
Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease: NPF Congratulates Mahlon DeLong and Alim-Louis Benabid and Looks to a Bright Future in Human Neural-Network Modulation

August 2014
Everything You Need to Know About Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease

July 2014
The End for Levodopa Phobia: New Study Shows Sinemet is a Safe Initial Therapy for Treatment of Parkinson's Disease

June 2014
Is light therapy a potential treatment modality in Parkinson’s disease?

May 2014
How does the most common genetic cause of Parkinson’s Disease (LRRK2) cause Parkinson’s disease and could it be used to help develop a better therapy?

April 2014
An Update on DAT Scanning for Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis

March 2014
Could Northera (Droxidopa) Be an Alternative Treatment for Low Blood Pressure and Passing Out Symptoms?

February 2014
The Dream of a Pill Free Existence and the Continuous Dopaminergic Pump for the Treatment of Parkinson's Disease

January 2014
Should I take Inosine to Raise my Uric Acid Levels and Treat my Parkinson’s Disease?

December 2013
Could Fungus and Mold be an Important Contributor to Parkinson’s Disease?

November 2013
Pimavanserin and the Hope for a Better Drug for Hallucinations and Psychosis in Parkinson’s Disease

October 2013
Halting of the Creatine Study

September 2013
The Importance of Identifying and Treating Caregiver Strain

August 2013
Putting Parkinson’s Disease Information into the Palm of Your Hand: Parkinson’s Enters the Smartphon

July 2013
What Parkinson’s Disease Patients Need to Know about H. Pylori Gastrointestinal Infections

June 2013
A2A Receptor Antagonists and Parkinson’s Disease Treatment

May 2013
Another Setback for Trophic Factor Treatment in Parkinson's Disease

April 2013
IPX066 and What Patients Really Want in New Carbidopa/Levodopa (Sinemet) Formulations

March 2013
The Weather Forecast for Parkinson’s Disease Calls for Worldwide Economic Storm

February 2013
Defeating the Barriers to Implementing Exercise Regimens in Parkinson’s Disease Patients

January 2013
When should you start medication therapy for Parkinson’s disease?

December 2012
Neurologist Care Reduces Hospitalizations in Parkinson's Disease

November 2012
A Victory in Court for Parkinson's Disease Patients who Require Ongoing Rehabilitative Therapies

October 2012
Given the recent FDA announcement about Mirapex (pramipexole), should I be worried about dopamine agonists?

September 2012
What about the new Parkinson’s Disease Vaccine? What should I know?

August 2012
Caffeine as a Potential Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

July 2012
Time to Consider GPi DBS for Parkinson’s Disease: A Shift in the Practice of Patient Selection for DBS

June 2012
A New Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease-Related Constipation

May 2012
Too Many Pills: Improving Delivery Systems for Parkinson’s Disease Drugs

April 2012
Measuring Quality and Assessing Depression in Parkinson's Disease

March 2012
Watch out for Unexpected Obstacles if You Use a Cueing Strategy to Break Freezing of Gait in Parkinson’s Disease

February 2012
Pill Color, Generic Medications and Insurance Issues: Important Medication-Related Tips for the Parkinson’s Disease Patient

January 2012
Are Blood Tests for Parkinson’s Disease on the Horizon?

December 2011
Placing Stem Cells in Animal Models of Parkinson’s Disease: Another Important Step

November 2011
Important News for the Parkinson’s Disease Community: More Evidence that Sinemet and Madopar are Not Toxic and do Not Accelerate Disease Progression

October 2011
The Case for All Parkinson’s Disease Patients to be Co-managed by a Primary Care-Neurologist Team

September 2011
Scientists say Research on Brain Proteins Involved in Parkinson’s Disease is “Shaping” Up

August 2011
Who Actually Takes Care of Most of the Parkinson’s Patients Worldwide: The Need for Education and the Parkinson’s Toolkit

July 2011
If you are Dizzy or Passing Out, it could be Your Parkinson’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease Medications

June 2011
How Will Group Visits for Parkinson’s Disease Fit into the Future of Parkinson’s Disease Care?

May 2011
Why Patients Should be Wary of Chelation Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

April 2011
Opening the Door to Gene Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease: The Need for Refinement of the Technology and Approach

March 2011
Does it Matter if I Can’t Get Brand Sinemet?

February 2011
Should I get a DaTscan or PET scan to confirm my diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease?

January 2011
A Critical Reappraisal of the Worst Drugs in Parkinson’s Disease

December 2010
Environmental Risks for PD: Manganese, Welding, Mining, and Parkinsonism

November 2010
Calling for the FDA to Revise the Eight Sinemet a Day Rule

October 2010
Dry Cleaning Solvents and Potential Environmental Risks for Developing Parkinson’s Disease

September 2010
Maintaining the Balance: Why Parkinson’s Disease Patients Need to Understand Drug Recalls, Withdrawals, and Safety Alerts

August 2010
Shining a Light on Parkinson’s Disease: Optogenetics Has a Bright Future in Research

July 2010
Poor Medication Management of Parkinson's Disease During Hospital Admissions: Patients and Families Can Improve Their Hospital-Based Management

June 2010
Why Are Patches and Continuous Release Technology a Big Deal to Parkinson's?

May 2010
Is the PD SURG Trial Another Surge Forward for DBS Therapy?

April 2010
Cycling in PD in Those Who Can’t Walk: Is it Possible?

March 2010
New iPS Stem Cells for PD: What Does it Mean?

February 2010
Time for Comprehensive Care Networks for PD

January 2010
Is Parkinson's Disease a Prion Disease?

December 2009
Parkinson's Disease Linked to Gaucher's Disease

November 2009
Brain Cells Keep Time Stamps: Implications for Parkinson's Disease Therapies

October 2009
Is it Safe to Have an MRI with a DBS in Place?

September 2009
Take Care of Your Bones as They Are Affected in Parkinson's Disease (Even in Men)

August 2009
Is it Time to Start Paying Attention to Pain Symptoms in Parkinson's Disease Patients?

July 2009
Glutathione Fails to Demonstrate Significant Improvement in PD Symptoms

June 2009
Keeping an Eye on Trials Important to the Parkinson's Disease Patient

May 2009
Increased Risk of Melanoma in Parkinson's Disease

April 2009
Finally a DBS Expert Consensus Statement Aimed at Their True Customers: The Patients

March 2009
Pesticides and Environmental Exposure in Parkinson's disease: Should We Stay Away From the Stink Truck?

February 2009
Is Exercise Effective Treatment and Protection Against PD?

January 2009
Why are Transplant Trials Struggling to Succeed in the Treatment of PD?

December 2008
Are Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors Disease Modifying or Neuroprotective in PD?

November 2008
Update on Gene Therapy for Parkinson's Disease

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Each month, we will feature a new column by NPF's National Medical Director, Dr. Michael Okun, on the latest developments in Parkinson's disease research. Read the latest "What's Hot in PD?" below.

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