28 August 2008

Azilect slows Parkinson's disease?

The pharmaceutical companies Teva and Lundbeck are reporting that the "ADAGIO" study shows that rasagiline (Azilect) slows Parkinson's disease. The study used a "delayed start" methodology which is a fairly new study design. So far, I've not seen their data. The questions will be: does it really slow Parkinson's? if so, by how much?

Rasagiline improves Parkinson symptoms by inhibiting the breakdown of dopamine by the enzyme MAO-B. A major concern is that rasagiline might also inhibit MAO-A and thereby predispose patients to the MAO syndrome. This means that there may be significant drug interactions with the drug. So far, fluoxetine (Prozac), propoxyphene (Darvon and others), the quinolone antibiotic Cipro, tramadol (Ultram), methadone, and Demerol look to be the worst medicines to use in combination with rasagiline.

The concern about drug interactions is made more serious because patients may get admitted to hospital and inadvertantly be administered an interacting medicine, which would produce the MAO syndrome that could lead to death.

Brad Evans