Drug Cuts 'Off' Time for Parkinson's Patients

Ropinirole reduced return of symptoms by 2.1 hours a day, study finds

THURSDAY, April 5, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Taking 24-hour prolonged release ropinirole significantly reduced daily "off" time that Parkinson's disease patients experience due to the return of symptoms such as tremors, slowness, stiffness and difficulty walking as drugs wear off, a U.S. study says.

The study, published in the April 3 issue of the journal Neurology, included 393 Parkinson's patients who weren't fully responding to the widely-used Parkinson's drug levodopa. Half the patients took 24-hour prolonged release ropinirole and levodopa for six months, while the other half took a placebo and levodopa. None of the patients' other Parkinson medications were changed during the study.

The average daily "off" time in the ropinirole group was reduced 2.1 hours, compared to 0.3 hours in the placebo group. The study also found that more than half the patients in the ropinirole group were "much improved" or "very much improved," compared to 14 percent of patients in the placebo group. In addition, patients taking ropinirole were able to reduce their dosage of levodopa.

The study was supported by GlaxoSmithKline and Skye Pharma, makers of prolonged release ropinirole.

Involuntary movements, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, hallucinations, and sudden drops in blood pressure were common side effects among patients taking prolonged release ropinirole.

"Ropinirole 24-hour prolonged release, when taken with levodopa, is effective in reducing daily 'off' time for Parkinson patients who aren't getting the best results from levodopa. We also found the drug helped improve quality of life and motor function," study author Dr. Rajesh Pahwa, of the University of Kansas Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

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SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, April 2, 2007
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