Parkinson’s Disease: A Closer look at the Dopamine Agonist Patch

Published: 14 Sep 2006

By Paljit Mudhar, Industry Analyst, Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology

Parkinson Disease’s (PD) is a slowly progressive disease generally associated with tremor or trembling of the arms and legs, stiffness and rigidity of the muscles and slowness of movement. The cause is still unknown, although medical experts know the problem is related to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Parkinson’s disease typically affects people over 40. A small proportion, around 5 percent develop Parkinson’s in their teens.

Frost & Sullivan estimates that the anti-Parkinsonsian drugs market was valued at $1.10 billion in 2005 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.2 per cent from 2005 to 2012. By 2012 it is likely to reach a value of $1.28 billion. Levodopa is the gold standard therapy drug for Parkinson’s disease and is still considered the most efficacious. However, long term use can cause many side effects because levodopa can lose its beneficial effects over time. Levodopa/carbidopa therapy is usually highly effective for the first 2 to 5 years of treatment. Dopamine agonists are currently used as the first line of defence against Parkinson’s disease. If dopamine agonists are used in monotherapy at earlier stages of the disease, they become the first line of defence against Parkinson’s disease and reduce the requirement for high levels of levodopa early on. Dopamine agonists produce fewer long-term side effects such as 'on/off' fluctuations and dyskinesias.

Dopamine agonists work by directly stimulating the dopamine receptors to bypass the degenerating brain cells. These drugs include bromocriptine (Parlodel), lisuride, pergolide (Celance), cabergoline (Camases), ropinirole (Requip), talipexole (only available in Japan), pramipexole (Mirapexin) and apomorphine (Apo-go). The side effects of dopamine agonists are similar to levodopa although nausea and mental problems such as hallucinations usually occur more often.

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