Sunday, November 10, 2013

Drug Shows Promise in Treating Parkinson’s Psychosis

News Brief by Alice Chan

A novel treatment for psychosis in individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease is underway due to the positive findings of a recent clinical trial. Dr. Clive Ballard and his colleagues have identified pimavanserin as a new drug that may competently treat psychosis and other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Their clinical trial, funded by Acadia Pharmaceuticals, included 199 Parkinson’s patients suffering from disease-associated psychosis. These patients were randomly assigned to receive either daily doses of pimavanserin or a placebo pill for 43 days. At the completion of the clinical trial, the research team reported that the patients who received pimavanserin had a 37% improvement in their psychotic symptoms compared to the 14% improvement of patients who received the placebo pill. Additional findings from this study demonstrated that patients taking pimavanserin had better sleeping and greater improvement of mental functioning during the trial period. As a result of these findings, there is growing support for the use of pimavanserin to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. 

Experts in the medical and research communities are confident in the drug’s future success. Dr. Michael Okun, the national medical director of the National Parkinson Foundation, believes that “pimavanserin may offer a relatively safe and reasonably efficacious choice for many patients in the situation where the current therapies are not adequate.” Since it has yet to show serious side effects, pimavanserin is considered to be a safer option than the current antipsychotic medication. Dr. Susan Fox, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Toronto, explains that “treating psychosis in Parkinson's disease is challenging because of side effects of current drugs -- especially potentially worsening Parkinson's disease motor symptoms. Pimavanserin offers an alternative without this risk.” Despite this early success, more comprehensive studies are needed to establish the long-term tolerability and effectiveness of pimavanserin before it can officially be prescribed as an alternative medication.

Reference:  Reinberg, S. (2013, October 31). New Drug Shows Early Promise in Treating Parkinson's Psychosis.Parkinson's Disease Health Center. Retrieved October 31, 2013, from
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