Wednesday, June 28, 2006

FDA Approves First Treatment for Dementia of Parkinson’s Disease

While I spend much of my time investigating potentially unsafe pharmaceutical drugs, I do appreciate that many drugs work as promised and give much relief to those who take them.

Today's news from the FDA is Exelon (rivastigmine tartrate) has been approved to treat mild to moderate dementia (chronic loss or impairment of intellectual capacity) associated with Parkinson's disease, a disorder of the central nervous system. Exelon was previously approved for the treatment of mild to moderate dementia of the Alzheimer's type.

From the FDA site: "It's been recognized for almost a decade that the dementia of patients with Parkinson's disease differs from the dementia of patients with Alzheimer's," said Dr. Steven Galson, Director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, "but until now, there has been no treatment that has been shown to be effective specifically for the dementia associated with Parkinson's Disease. Today's approval of Exelon helps to fill this medical need."

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive disorder of the central nervous system that belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. Parkinson's is the direct result of the loss of cells in a section of the brain called the substantia nigra. Those cells produce dopamine, a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals within the brain. Loss of dopamine causes critical nerve cells in the brain, or neurons, to fire out of control, leaving patients unable to direct or control their movement in a normal manner. You can read more about this disease that primarily strikes those over 50 by going to

I have an ill parent who suffers from moderate dementia associated with Parkinson's. I can assure you it is not something you would want to see for yourself. My parent will not get better, but this drug may help my parent and others cope a bit.