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NPF Statement About PhRMA Report Detailing Parkinson's Drugs in Development

March 24, 2014

NPF Statement About PhRMA Report Detailing Parkinson's Drugs in Development


“We applaud PhRMA for their efforts in reviewing all the US-based pipeline medications, however we believe that they understate the promise of developing disease modifying medications.  Over the past decade, advances in genetics and mechanisms of Parkinson's have advanced our understanding to the point that we are truly targeting mechanisms of the disease in our research.  Last November, NPF announced its 2014 grants program with focus areas to achieve exactly this: advance our understanding of mechanisms that are directly responsible for how the disease progresses.  While advancing today's symptomatic therapies will provide important and necessary relief to today's patients, we hope that current research will point us towards ways to truly slow the disease.”

-Peter Schmidt, PhD, Chief Information Office and Vice President of Research Programs at the National Parkinson Foundation

Joint Statement from Parkinson's Organizations

Parkinson’s Disease Organizations Applaud Efforts to Bring More Drugs to Market, Urge Focus be on Medications that Slow Progression of Disease New report by PhRMA outlines potential advances in drug therapies for people with Parkinson’s disease

This statement is prepared on behalf of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the National Parkinson Foundation, the Parkinson Alliance, the Parkinson’s Action Network, and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

(WASHINGTON, March 24, 2014) –The organizations representing the Parkinson’s disease community applaud biopharmaceutical research companies for developing 37 new Parkinson’s disease drugs, but call for more research to find effective medications that would target the disease directly.

In a report released today by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), 37 new drugs are described as in the pipeline to help people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a chronic, progressive neurological disease affecting up to 1.5 million Americans. Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder and is the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Dopamine, a neurochemical that controls communication between brain cells, is crucial to control of motor function. Motor symptoms may include tremor or trembling, rigidity or stiffness, bradykinesia, postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination. The broad array of non-motor symptoms includes cognitive changes, mood disorders, and sleep disturbance, among others.

Currently there is no cure, therapy, or drug to slow or halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease. While medication masks some symptoms for a limited period, generally four-to-eight years, dose-limiting side-effects do occur after time. Eventually the medications lose their effectiveness, leaving the person unable to move, speak, or swallow.

“We are pleased to see that there are 37 new drugs making their way to patients,” said Amy Comstock Rick, CEO of the Parkinson’s Action Network. “However, the number of new drugs is not as important as whether these medications are ultimately effective in improving the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s. As a community, we will continue to fight to ensure that researchers have the funds and resources they need to bring us closer to drugs or therapies that directly slow or halt the progression of this disease.”

The news that these new drugs are in the pipeline is a sign that the research community is moving in the right direction to find better treatments for Parkinson’s disease. In fact, some of the 37 medications in development are disease-modifying therapies that could potentially halt the progression of Parkinson’s.

For example, one of the medications targets a receptor in the brain that plays a major role in motor control.

All 37 drugs outlined in the PhRMA report were developed by United States-based companies conducting trials in the U.S. and abroad, PhRMA-member companies conducting trials in the U.S. and abroad, and foreign companies conducting clinical trials in the United States. The medicines are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the Food and Drug Administration. There are many other medications and therapies for Parkinson’s disease developed outside the U.S. that are not included in this report.

Read the PhRMA report.