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Drug May Slow Progression of Parkinson’s Disease

Last Updated: September 23, 2009.

Early treatment with rasagiline may slow the progression of Parkinson's disease in patients with very mild disease, according to a study in the Sept. 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Early treatment with rasagiline may slow the progression of Parkinson's disease in patients with very mild disease, according to a study in the Sept. 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

C. Warren Olanow, M.D., from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues randomly assigned 1,176 patients with untreated Parkinson's disease to rasagiline (1 or 2 mg daily) for 72 weeks (the early-start group) or to placebo for 36 weeks followed by rasagiline (1 or 2 mg daily) for 36 weeks (the delayed-start group).

As assessed by the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, the researchers found that patients in the early-start group receiving 1 mg rasagiline daily had a significantly slower rate of progression compared with placebo between weeks 12 and 36, a significantly slower rate of progression compared with the delayed-start group between baseline and week 72, and a similar rate of progression compared with the delayed-start group between weeks 48 and 72.

"Early treatment with rasagiline at a dose of 1 mg per day provided benefits that were consistent with a possible disease-modifying effect, but early treatment with rasagiline at a dose of 2 mg per day did not," Olanow and colleagues conclude. "Because the two doses were associated with different outcomes, the study results must be interpreted with caution."

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries funded the study and was responsible for data collection, monitoring, and statistical analysis. Many of the authors reported financial and consulting relationships with pharmaceutical companies.

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