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Mar 22, 2017 02:49 PM EDT

Medical Breakthrough: FDA Finally Approves Drugs For Parkinson's Disease

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The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally approved another drug for Parkinson's disease. However, the new medicine is only an additional treatment for patients who are already under the levodopa prescription. Also, those who are going through "off" episodes would benefit from it.

Xadago, also known as safinamide, was patented by the Newron Pharmaceutical Company. It aims to reduce the tremors and difficulty in walking that often contribute to the symptoms of Parkinson's. In fact, Pharmacy Times reported that in one of the two tests performed on 645 patients, those who took Xadago with levodopa had better "on" times.

To better illustrate, "on" time refers to the moments wherein the symptoms of the disease are reduced. Meanwhile, in a second clinical trial, those who added safinamide to their levodopa medication had less uncontrolled involuntary movements compared to those who preferred placebo. The FDA even noted that the former group garnered higher scores on motor function during "on" time than before treatment.

According to Medscape, Safinamide is a choosy monoamine oxidase (MAO) B inhibitor. Thus, Xadago should not be prescribed to people with severe liver problems or to patients taking dextromethorphan. Additionally, those who take antidepressants like serotonin-norepinephrine, tricyclics, tetracyclics, and triazolopyridines or even cyclobenzaprine are not advised to take Xadago.

Per FDA, Safinamide may cause harmful side effects to the patients mentioned above. The experts noted that the worst-case scenario is death. Nevertheless, to common Parkinson's disease patients, the side effects of Xadago are nausea, uncontrolled movements, and either trouble sleeping or immediately falling asleep. Unfortunately, Eric Bastings, MD, said that Parkinson's still has no cure and FDA is only helping to produce additional treatments.

Bastings is the Deputy Director of the Division of Neurology Products in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Consequently, the "serious, but less common" risks are worsening of hypertension and hallucinations. Psychotic and compulsive behaviors are also possible. Lastly, withdrawal-emergent hyperpyrexia and confusion plus retinal pathology are thinkable but unlikely to occur.

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