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The National Parkinson Foundation Announces Initiative to Further Define Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

The National Parkinson Foundation Announces Initiative to Further Define Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Currently, there is no one definition of what it means to have advanced Parkinson’s disease

Initiative will support the creation of a tool to help physicians assess changes in the disease

MIAMI, FL—January 9, 2017—The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF), a division of the Parkinson’s Foundation, is proud to announce a collaboration with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT), AbbVie, and a steering committee comprised of physicians around the world to create a clinical questionnaire that can be used to define the transition between early/mid Parkinson’s disease (PD) and advanced PD.

Currently, there is no one definition of what it means to have “advanced” PD. For routine clinical practice, current guidelines do not recommend the use of any scales for staging the disease.  Scales used by expert neurologists to measure Parkinson’s symptoms exist, but there is no evidence-based guidance for how to translate scores to a treatment approach.

Hubert Fernandez, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, said, “By characterizing the profile of patients that an expert neurologist would consider for options beyond first-line oral medications, we can help patients to get the benefits of expert insight even if they can’t make it to a movement disorders center.  We have assembled a strong team of physicians, industry experts and patient advocates sharing the common goal of improving care for people living with Parkinson’s.”

Development of this tool will attempt to standardize care assessment for all medical professionals involved in the identification and treatment of this progressive and disabling neurological disease.

“Research has shown a gulf between expert care and average care.  Together, NPF and AbbVie are working to help identify the criteria that expert neurologists use to evaluate a patient for a change in intervention,” said Peter N. Schmidt, PhD, NPF’s senior vice president, research and professional programs and chief mission officer. “Patients experiencing uncontrolled ‘off’ episodes or other PD symptoms have options.  The goal is to remain one step ahead of disease progression and to help people live well with Parkinson’s.”

The questionnaire will be developed using the following set of criteria:

  1. Describe the phases of PD that links the patient’s status to a stage-appropriate set of potential treatments.
  2. Be based on a simple screening approach that can be used to evaluate patients in any clinical setting.
  3. Be dynamic and updatable to reflect the latest PD guidelines and treatment options.  

“AbbVie is committed to improving the lives of patients living with Parkinson’s disease through the advancement of medical science and education,” said Michael Norton, vice president of U.S. Medical Affairs, AbbVie. “Our partnership in this initiative is a reflection of that commitment and will help bridge a currently unfilled gap in patient care.”

This tool for clinical evaluation will initially be piloted at NPF Centers of Excellence participating in the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, the largest clinical study of PD in the world.  It will be available to all clinicians in the second half of 2017.

About the National Parkinson Foundation, a division of the Parkinson's Foundation
The Parkinson's Foundation is working toward a world without Parkinson's disease. Formed by the merger of National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) and the Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) in August 2016, the mission of the Parkinson's Foundation is to invest in promising scientific research that will end Parkinson's disease and improve the lives of people with Parkinson's, and their families, through improved treatments, support and the best care. For more information, visit or, or call (800) 4PD-INFO (473-4636) or (800) 457-6676.

About Parkinson's Disease (PD)
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects one million people in the US and over 10 million worldwide.  Parkinson's is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's and is the 14th leading cause of death in the US.  It is associated with a loss of motor control (e.g., shaking or tremor at rest and lack of facial expression) as well as non-motor symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety).  Although promising research is being conducted, there is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease.