Advanced Parkinson's disease

NHS launches ‘vital’ new infusion treatment for advanced Parkinson’s disease

The NHS is set to launch a portable drug infusion to help advanced Parkinson’s disease patients better manage their movement-related symptoms.

The treatment, known as foslevodopa-foscarbidopa, will be for those whose condition has led to severe motor fluctuations. More specifically it will be for patients who are no longer responding to oral medicines, but have responded to the drug, levodopa.

The treatment will be rolled out by NHS England (NHSE) from 27 February, with around 1,000 patients earmarked to benefit immediately.

A comparable and more invasive treatment has been offered by NHSE since 2015, but that requires drugs to be delivered directly into the gut by a permanent feeding tube.

This new device, however, is small and portable as well as being easy to fit and remove. The gradual release of medicine helps patients manage symptoms throughout the day, with patients also having the ability to boost their dosage themselves if necessary.

Maria Caulfield comment

It works as an infusion that is delivered under the skin via a cannula and controlled by a small pump that patients wear 24 hours a day.

As part of the treatment process, the drug foslevodopa turns into a chemical dopamine, which helps better transmit messages between the brain and nerves to improve movement control.

Some Parkinson’s patients can take more than 20 tablets a day to manage their symptoms, which can be difficult to maintain and lead to side-effects.

NHSE’s medical director for specialised services, James Palmer says: “This is great news for hundreds of patients who are living with an often difficult and debilitating condition.”

“This important therapy will now offer a vital new option on the NHS for those who aren’t suitable for other treatments,” adds Palmer.

Laura Cockram, head of campaigns at Parkinson’s UK, comments: “There are very few advanced treatments for the condition, so we are delighted another one is available.”

Image credit: iStock

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