With the acquisition of the Swedish pharmaceutical company Neopharma and the marketing rights of Duodopa®, Solvay Pharmaceuticals enters a new therapeutic area. Duodopa® is specifically appropriate for patients with advanced progressive Parkinson’s disease, where oral treatments are no longer effective and are typically associated with severe motor fluctuations. It has been commercially available in Sweden since February 2004 and is registered in eight other EU member states. A second mutual recognition procedure for approval in other major European countries is ongoing.

DUODOPA® is a levodopa/carbidopa combination. It is given inside the upper intestine via a small tube inserted directly into the first part of the small bowel, or duodenum. The unique delivery system with a programmable pump allows the physician and patient to individually tune the delivery of active ingredients, suspended as stable gel from a cassette worn outside the body. Better control of body movements can be achieved resulting in many patients becoming more functional in their daily lives.

Levodopa is modified by brain enzymes to produce dopamine. The introduction of levodopa (or L-dopa) treatment more than 30 years ago revolutionized treatment of Parkinson disease. For most people, it reduces the symptoms of slowness, stiffness and tremor. It is still the most effective treatment for many of the symptoms of Parkinson disease. Unfortunately, blood enzymes (called AADCs) break down most of the levodopa before it reaches the brain. That’s why levodopa is usually combined with the enzyme inhibitor carbidopa.

Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder. It is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time. It occurs when certain nerve cells (neurons) in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra die or become impaired. Normally, these cells produce a chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that transports signals to the parts of the brain that control movement initiation and coordination. When approximately 80% of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear.

The loss of dopamine production in the brain causes the primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: tremor (shaking), slowness of movement, rigidity (stiffness), difficulty with balance. Other signs of Parkinson’s disease may include: small, cramped handwriting, stiff facial expression, shuffling walk, muffled speech and depression.

Parkinson disease affects both men and women in almost equal numbers. It shows no social, ethnic, economic or geographic boundaries. Of all the neurodegenerative disorders it is second to Alzheimer’s disease in numbers of cases, with more that 1.3 million patients suffering from it in major countries.
While the condition usually develops after the age of 65, 15% of those diagnosed are under 50.

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