It may have taken 5 years, but patients with Parkinson’s disease now have access to Neupro (rotigotine) in all provinces and territories – except for British Columbia.

In 2013, Health Canada approved the dopamine agonist to manage motor symptoms, but it was not until now that the drug, in patch form, was made available via public funding (special authorization) throughout Canada (except for British Columbia).

In a news release, Joyce Gordon, Chief Executive Officer, Parkinson Canada. “When patients have therapies that help in terms of enabling day-to-day functioning, it also improves quality of life for their spouses. Medication like Neurpo means that both the person with Parkinson’s, and consequently their care partner, may get a better night’s sleep, and often a better start to the next day. This is indeed good news.”

Current standard treatment or people with Parkinson’s disease is the dopamine agonist levodopa (L-dopa) but the drug is not always effective in relieving motor symptoms and other agonists, such as  ropinirole and pramipexole, 2 drugs that have the same mechanism of action as Neupro but are in pill forms. Neupro is delivered via a patch.

Alfonso Fasano, MD, of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital stated, “I am very satisfied to know that even more of my patients on levodopa will have access to Neupro, a dopamine agonist with a unique mechanism of action, for which effectiveness and safety have been demonstrated over the past decade. This can translate into improved quality of life and functioning during daily activities as a result of sustained symptom control, for example at nighttime. Plus, Neupro’s patch delivery system increases patient compliance by reducing the significant pill burden for patients, including those who have difficulty swallowing.”

Why it has taking so long (5 years) for the drug to be available in public plans following its approval by Health Canada is not clear nor is it known why it is still not available in British Columbia’s public plan. In November 2015, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) recommended the drug be available in public plans with the condition that the daily drug plan cost of the patch be comparable to ropinirole or pramipexole.

Parkinson’s Disease is neurological condition due to the loss of dopamine containing neurons in the central nervous system. The most common symptoms are motor-related (tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, etc) but as the disease progresses, non-motor symptoms can also present (depression, difficulty swallowing, cognitive changes, etc).

For more information about Parkinson’s disease, visit www.parkison.ca