Hundreds to benefit from advanced Parkinson’s treatment

The NHS spending watchdog has recommended a treatment for advanced Parkinson’s disease in a move that is expected to benefit hundreds of people.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said foslevodopa–foscarbidopa – also known as Produodopa and made by AbbVie – should be an option for those with advanced forms of the neurological condition.

The drug will be available for those with severe jerking or muscle spasms, also known as dyskinesia, as well as extreme changes in their ability to move.

It is the first drug treatment to be recommended for Parkinson’s by Nice under its technology appraisals programme.

It has previously only published the likes of clinical guidelines and interventional procedures for the condition.

According to Parkinson’s UK, one in 37 people alive today in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in their lifetime.

It estimates that 128,000 people are living with the condition in England in 2023.

Laura Cockram, head of campaigns at the charity, welcomed the Nice recommendation, which is expected to benefit about 900 people.

“Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, and it affects everyone differently,” she said.

“Foslevodopa-foscarbidopa could be a life-changing option for those whose symptoms are not well controlled by oral medication.”

Produodopa is administered through an infusion pump, a small portable machine that releases medication into the body through the veins.

Once released, foslevodopa is turned into dopamine, a chemical that helps transmit messages between parts of the brain and nerves that control movement.

Taking the drug alongside foscarbidopa increases the availability of foslevodopa in the brain.

The treatment could also have additional benefits for patients, the Nice committee said, including improved non-motor symptoms, blood pressure and bladder control and fewer problems with sleep and mood.

Tablets containing levodopa and carbidopa are the standard initial treatment for Parkinson’s, but as the disease progresses other medicines may be added.

Treatment for advanced cases include apomorphine, a drug given as an injection to act like dopamine to stimulate nerve cells, as well as deep brain stimulation through surgery or levodopa–carbidopa intestinal gel.

AbbVie asked for foslevodopa–foscarbidopa to be considered only for people who cannot have apomorphine or deep brain stimulation surgery, Nice said, or for when these treatments are no longer effective.

Ms Cockram said: “There are very few advanced treatments that don’t require an invasive operation or duodopa. This decision will give hope to many families, and could potentially have a big impact.

“It won’t be suitable for everybody though, and people with Parkinson’s should speak to their consultant or Parkinson’s nurse to see whether it’s an option for them.

“We are keen to see NHS bodies approve and use this therapy to help people with Parkinson’s control their symptoms.”

Helen Knight, director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said the treatment presents an “easy-to-use option” for patients to “manage their symptoms more reliably and effectively”.

It comes after Nice said in May that it would not recommend foslevodopa–foscarbidopa to treat advanced Parkinson’s as it could not “determine a reliable cost-effectiveness estimate”.

Ms Knight added: “This is the first time Nice has approved a treatment for Parkinson’s and comes after Nice was able to work with the company to address the issues that had initially prevented a positive recommendation.

“We are determined to get the best care to patients fast and ensure value for the taxpayer.”

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