The media response to the tragic suicide of the gifted actor Robin Williams has included much speculation about a possible connection between his recent diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease, or the medicines used to treat it, with the depression that apparently prompted him to take his life. At the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, we are not privy to the details of his diagnosis, or the prescriptions he may have used to treat it. Nor do we have any information about any other drugs he is rumored to have used, or whether these may have contributed to his depression.
Nearly two years ago, I wrote about how the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) appeared to be ready to approve a new drug for neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (NOH), which, basically, is a precipitous drop in blood pressure upon standing. (I recommend reading that blog as a good primer.) That drug, droxidopa with the brand name of Northera™, did not win approval because of outstanding concerns by FDA. Fast-forward to this week, and FDA has now signaled that it will approve droxidopa for the treatment of NOH.
Earlier this week, PsychoGenics Inc., announced that an experimental drug for Parkinson’s, eltoprazine, seemed to reduce dyskinesia in people with Parkinson’s in early studies. Dyskinesias are the twisting and writhing movements that occur as PD progresses – a common side effect of the medication levodopa (Sinemet®). Back in 2007, it was PDF-funded researcher Manolo Carta Ph.D., along with Anders Björklund, M.D., who performed the pre-clinical research that led to the identification of this drug. At the time, while many researchers were looking at dopamine neurons as the culprit behind dyskinesias (through their interaction with levodopa), Dr. Carta’s proposal suggested something… Read More
From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs You may have read the recent news about the small pharmaceutical company,Chelsea Therapeutics, and their drug Northera™ (droxidopa). Chelsea recently received the recommendation of a FDA advisory committee to approve droxidopa as a treatment for neurogenic orthostatic hypotension or NOH for short. This recommendation was a big surprise since FDA documents released ahead of the committee meeting showed that agency staff members were clearly against approval; nevertheless, this approval recommendation will strongly influence the final decision expected to be made later this month. What is NOH? Normally, blood pressure increases as you… Read More