Israeli company launches Parkinson’s information site

Parkinsonshealth.com offers a variety of resources to empower people living with PD with knowledge about the disease and strategies for managing it with their health care provider. Managing Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be a challenging, all-encompassing experience for both the …

Parkinsonshealth.com offers a variety of resources to empower people living with PD with knowledge about the disease and strategies for managing it with their health care provider. Managing Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be a challenging, all-encompassing experience for both the patient and the patient’s family. But now, the estimated one million Americans living with the disease have someplace to turn to for answers to their questions – a website called
www.parkinsonshealth.com which was initiated by Israeli drug developers Teva Neuroscience.

PD is a degenerative disorder of the brain. Symptoms can include tremors, stiffness, slowness of movement, and impaired balance. It usually affects people over the age of 50.

Parkinsonshealth.com offers a variety of resources to empower people living with PD with knowledge about the disease and strategies for managing it with their health care provider. Designed to provide patients and caregivers with tips and tools for living with PD, the site offers valuable information about symptoms and treatments. The site also includes animations illustrating how PD symptoms affect the body, and how the brain responds to treatments – making some of even the most technical aspects of PD simple to understand.

According to a Teva spokesman, the content for ParkinsonsHealth.com was developed by Teva Neuroscience and co-promotion partner Eisai Inc. Content was based on materials developed by an advisory council including Dr. Lawrence Elmer, a movement disorders specialist from the Medical College of Ohio.

“It is important to us that PD patients and caregivers are armed with useful information about the disease and options for managing it,” said Teva’s Dr. Lillian Pardo,director, Medical Affairs of Teva Neuroscience, Inc. “Developing parkinsonshealth.com was a priority for us, because we recognize the importance of empowerment and messages of hope in helping people living with PD manage the disease.”

Among other benefits, the site offers patients and caregivers an opportunity to approach PD in a proactive way.

“Today, treating and managing PD goes beyond effective drug therapy. It also involves diet, exercise, mental health, and active patient and caregiver involvement,” said Elmer, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Neurological Disorders and the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Program at the Medical College of Ohio. “This site is both informational and educational but, more importantly, it gives patients and caregivers the tools to help actively manage their disease. It shows those affected by PD that the disease does not have to limit their ability to do the things they like and want to do.”

Teva Neuroscience, Inc. and Eisai Inc., have also collaborated on Life in the Balance, a free newsletter for people and families affected by PD which is available at the site.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., headquartered in Israel, is among the top 25 pharmaceutical companies and among the largest generic pharmaceutical companies in the world. The company develops, manufactures and markets generic and innovative human pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients. Close to 90 percent of Teva’s sales are in North America and Europe. Teva Neuroscience, Inc. is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Teva.

“Since 1995, Teva Neuroscience has focused on the multiple sclerosis community with the marketing of Copaxone (glatiramer acetate injection). Now, Teva is exploring the opportunity to take what they learned through our total approach to disease management and help people with other chronic neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, according to the Teva spokesman.

Last month, Teva announced that it has received an approvable letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for once-daily Agilect, or rasagiline mesylate, as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. An “approvable” letter brings Teva a step closer to obtaining U.S. permission to market the drug. The letter relates to rasagiline as an initial monotherapy (taken alone) in early Parkinson’s patients and as adjunct therapy in moderate-to-advanced stages of the disease.

“We are very pleased to receive this approvable letter, which is a major regulatory milestone in the approval process of Agilect,” said Israel Makov, president and CEO of Teva. Rasagiline acts by blocking the breakdown of dopamine, a substance made by brain cells, which is essential to movement.

Following the approvable letter, Teva is working together with the FDA to complete the process of receiving final approval as soon as possible, according to the Teva spokesman.

According to an article in the April issue of Archive of Neurology, patients treated with once-daily rasagiline 1 or 2 mg per day for 12 months showed less impairment in Parkinson’s disease features than patients whose treatment was delayed for six months.

Impairment was measured by total Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) score, a research tool commonly used to measure a patient’s ability to perform mental and motor tasks and activities of daily life.


“A possible explanation for these results is that rasagiline may slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, but longer duration studies are needed to confirm these findings,” said Ira Shoulson, M.D., Professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study. “This prospect, combined with our previous findings of benefit and safety suggests that rasagiline has the potential to be a promising new treatment for PD.”

The initial 26-week phase of the trial showed that patients who received rasagiline 1 or 2 mg once-daily had better symptom control than those receiving placebo. The entire 12-month study was conducted by the PSG at 32 sites in the United States and Canada.

Rasagiline is a novel, potent, second-generation, selective, irreversible monoamine oxidase type-B (MAO-B) inhibitor that blocks the breakdown of dopamine, a substance in the brain needed to facilitate movement. A new drug application for rasagiline for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease was submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Sept. 5, 2003. Indications are being sought for once-daily rasagiline as a monotherapy in early Parkinson’s disease and as an adjunct to levodopa in moderate to advanced disease.

“We are excited about the possibility of marketing a treatment for Parkinson’s disease that offers the ease of once-daily dosing and is well tolerated,” said Larry Downey, president of Teva Neuroscience. “The 12-month data suggest the potential of rasagiline to slow PD-related impairment, and we are encouraged by these findings.”

The development of rasagiline is part of a long-term alliance for co-development in Parkinson’s disease and European marketing between Teva and H. Lundbeck A/S. Rasagiline’s development was based on original research performed by Prof. Moussa Youdim and Prof. John Finberg, both from Rappoport Research Institute, at the Technion in Haifa.

Youdim hopes Rasagiline will prove not only to slow Parkinson’s, but to help nerve cells grow anew, something no other drug in the world can do. According to Youdim, you could theoretically mix a spoonful of rasagiline into your cornflakes and protect your brain from the degeneration caused by aging, or from neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, he told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.

For Parkinson’s sufferers and their families, Israeli’s contribution to understanding the disease and finding the cures is a comforting concept. And now with Teva’s new information website, those who need to learn as much about Parkinson’s Disease as they can have a new, powerful ally.