News Release

February 15, 2005

Contact: Jane Shaskan, 860-679-4777

New Medication Shortens “Off-Time” for Parkinson Patients

FARMINGTON, CONN. – A new drug called rasagiline has been shown to lessen the amount of time that patients experience slowness and stiffness between doses of levodopa, typically used for treating these symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, as reported in the February issue of Archives in Neurology.

Patients taking levodopa experience what physicians call “off-time,” explained Dr. Mohamed N. Hassan, M.D., Ph.D., and principal investigator of the study at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Off-time, he said, is the period of time between when the effects of levodopa wear off and when a patient can take another dose. “Despite optimum treatment with levodopa and other anti-Parkinson medications, patients were experiencing ‘off times’ as well as involuntary movements,” said Dr. Hassan. “We have found that rasagiline significantly lessens these effects.”

Participating in the multi-site study were 472 Parkinson’s patients who experienced at least 2-1/2 hours “off” time daily. Participants took either 1 mg, or .5 mg of rasagiline, or a placebo once daily. They also kept home diaries during the 26 weeks of treatment noting their “off times,” explained Patricia Keltonic, R.N., UConn Health Center study coordinator.

At the end of 26 weeks, patients taking the higher dose of rasagiline showed almost a 2 hour improvement in their “off time,” and those on the lower dose showed more than a 1-1/2 hour improvement. Patients on placebo showed improvement for less than one hour, said Keltonic.

“We found that rasagiline was well-tolerated and lessened motor fluctuations and related symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s treated with currently available medications,” said Dr. Hasson. “The robustness and consistency of these results indicate that they are clinically important.

“In addition to these short-term effects, rasagiline appears to have more long-lasting benefits suggesting that it may modify the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Future studies are warranted to explore this possibility,” he said. “Rasagiline appears to be a promising new treatment for Parkinson’s disease symptoms.”

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