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Medical Minute: New Drugs for Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease is caused when brain cells that produce dopamine die. For 40 years, doctors have treated patients with dopamine medications. However, after years of taking the drug, it becomes less effective. Now, a new study shows how a new drug can help.

It's not just another day at the driving range for David and his wife Freda. A few months ago, David had a hard time walking, and he couldn't even consider golfing.

David has advanced Parkinson's disease. Like many patients, as his disease progressed, his medication became less effective.

"If I was standing to hit the ball, I couldn't get this leg to move most of the time."

Today, David easily strikes ball after ball.

"When I'm watching him here, it's wonderful. It's so different than from what he was before."

Dr. Robert Hauser says what David experienced happens to many Parkinson's patients who have spent years taking a dopamine medication.

“They take it. It lasts a few hours. It wears off, and then they get their slowness, stiffness and tremors back," Dr. Hauser says.

Now, a new study shows when dopamine drugs like sinemet wear off, the new non-dopamine drug istradefylline steps in.

"The quality of what they can do relates to is the medication is working, and as the study demonstrated, istradefylline gives them more of that good quality time through the day."

The amount of time patients have tremors, slowness and stiffness is reduced by nearly two hours a day.

For David, it meant a chance to go back to the game he loves.

"It's been really good for me. It's put me back on my feet, period."

For more information, contact:

Carol Southard, Administrative Assistant to Dr. Hauser
University of South Florida
(813) 844-4077

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