NeuroDerm fulfills a medical and commercial dream

Gali Weinreb

Continuous treatment of Parkinson's disease will enable patients to tolerate the drugs better for longer.

"The potential buyers liked NeuroDerm's technology because on the one hand it's patent-protected like an innovative drug for over twenty years, but on the other hand it's almost risk-free, like a generic drug," a source who knows the Parkinson's treatment market explained today.

Parkinson's disease treatment is almost entirely dominated by levodopa drugs, and related carbidopa drugs designed to delay the breakdown of levodopa before it reaches the brain. Levodopa works by being converted in the brain to dopamine, a neurotransmitter lacking in Parkinson's sufferers. These drugs, however, have many unpleasant side effects, and create dependency. As the disease worsens, higher and higher doses are required, so that in the end the severity of the side effects prevents effective use of the drugs.

The dilemma involved in the use of levodopa (although not for Parkinson's) was the subject of a feature film, "Awakenings", based on a book by Oliver Sacks, and starring Robin Williams as a doctor and Robert De Niro as a patient who revives from a catatonic state after taking the drug, but has to return to catatonia because of its side effects.

Doctor's specializing in Parkinson's disease are valued for, among other things, their ability to make fine adjustments to the dosage of the drugs in order to achieve maximum effect with minimum side effects. This, however, is a complex procedure that even for the most experienced practitioner eventually becomes impossible as treatment is prolonged and the condition worsens.

Part of the problem in the use of levodopa is due to the fact that when it is administered orally a higher dose needs to be given in order that enough of it will enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. With orally administered drugs the dosage is higher also because they are taken several times a day and not continuously. Care must be taken that even hours after the drug is swallowed the dosage in the blood will still be high enough.

Continuous administration of a Parkinson's treatment is a dream of the specialty. NeuroDerm is the first company in the world to have developed liquid formulations of the active ingredients levodopa and carbidopa. The fact that the formulation is liquid enables it to be administered continuously by infusion, subcutaneously, in a similar fashion to the way an insulin pump works.

Up to now, the only solution on the market for continuous administration of high doses of levodopa was surgery to place an implant that would release levodopa inside the body. This solution is applied only in severe cases of Parkinson's. NeuroDerm's product should render surgery unnecessary, and make it possible to adjust dosages from time to time without repeat surgery. In trials carried out by the company, it has demonstrated that it can deliver levodopa to the bloodstream at a fixed level, whether at low or high dosage, a result that previously had been obtained only through surgery.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 24, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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