Parkinson’s Drug Pump Shows Promise (Video)

Constant dose of drug delivered directly to intestine

Levodopa is considered the most effective drug to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The chronic, progressive neurological disease causes a person to lose control of body movements, resulting in tremors, muscle stiffness, loss of balance and a host of other problems.

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So far in the United States levodopa has only been available in pill form. But a new Cleveland Clinic study finds that using a pump to administer a gel form of levodopa directly into the small intestine is much more effective.

‘Bad time’ symptoms improved up to four hours daily

Neurologist Hubert Fernandez, MD, who led the study, says, “The levodopa pump decreased or improved what we call the ‘bad time’ in Parkinson’s patients by up to four hours per day.”

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The levodopa can control this ‘bad time’ — the tremors, muscle spasms and other movement disorders that makes it difficult for Parkinson’s patients to function on a daily basis.

“This is an amazing finding for us,” Dr. Fernandez says. “We know of no other oral therapy that will improve the bad time in Parkinson’s by an average of four hours daily.”

How the levodopa gel pump works

The levodopa pump is external. It sits in a pouch under the patient’s shirt and provides a steady dose of the drug. The levodopa gel is administered directly into the small intestine, where most of the drug is absorbed.

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The constant dose makes the body’s movements more controlled and predictable, making it easier for people with the disease to plan and go about their day without worrying that the drug’s effects will wear off.

“The biggest advantage of the levodopa is its efficacy,” Dr. Fernandez says. “We’re trying to deliver it on a continuous basis so the patients don’t need to take it every hour.”

Gel pump still under review

The gel pump is not yet available in the United States but is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration. The promising results of the trials offer hope to Parkinson’s patients looking for more efficient ways to control their symptoms.

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