Expert unsure new PBS-listed Parkinson's offers anything new
FROM this month the Parkinson's management drug Xadago will be listed on the PBS.
Xadago, or safinamide, is intended to slow down the breakdown of dopamine in the brain which then decreases symptoms, but only for a limited time.
The Minister for Health Greg Hunt expects that over 11,000 people with Parkinson's are expected to benefit from this listing. "Without PBS subsidy patients would pay more than $1400 per year for treatment," he said.
Professor Simon Lewis of the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney advised that while adding another drug to the list will give people more drug options, he's not sure what impact this drug will have in the treatment of Parkinson's.
"It's a class of drug that's said to be a little bit different in that it is supposed to have combined actions," Dr Lewis said. It is intended that the drug will give people with Parkinson's more "good time during the day", but there are other drugs that are already on the PBS that can create the same response.
"We are going to need to wait to see if this is actually going to change a lot of the landscape of prescribing that we have in Parkinson's," Dr Lewis said.
"We have a number of other drugs that do that as well and one class in particular has exactly the same mechanism of action as the new drug that is being licensed.
"Those drugs have not been put in a trial head to head to see if one is better, but looking at the data from the trials that have been published, it doesn't look like this one is going to be much, much better than the other."
Dr Lewis encourages Seniors to volunteer to get involved in Parkinson's research through The Australian Parkinson's Mission. The collaborative program is being run by non-government organisations and academic institutions, and funded by a $30 million grant from the Federal Government.
The researchers will be putting together trials to assess new treatments which can slow the progression of Parkinson's.
"They will combine that trials with novel blood tests, looking at the genetics and bio markers of the patitents in the trials which will give us a clue as to whether some patients respond better to other drugs or whether the genetic profile geting us a bit more towards what we call 'precision medicine'; like select the right patient for the right drug," Dr Lewis said.
It's estimated that about 80,000 Australian's live with Parkinson's and about 30 more are diagnosed with it every day.
To register to participate in the trials once they start, go to The Australian Parkinson's Mission.
Dr Lewis has an informative website for patients which conttains helpful videos covering a number of subjects around Parkinson's. For more details, go to profsimonlewis.com.