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New drug could fight psychotic symptoms of Parkinson's

The new drug can stop people from having to be admitted to nursing homes, those in charge of the drug trial claim.

Image: Chursina Viktoriia via Shutterstock

A BREAKTHROUGH NEW drug could alleviate psychotic symptoms for over 5 million Parkinson’s sufferers worldwide.

Pimavanserin, a new drug, may offer the first safe and effective treatment for these psychotic symptoms, according to a new trial published in The Lancet.

Pimavanserin works by blocking serotonin receptors in the neocortex (the part of the brain responsible for sensory perceptions, conscious thought and language) that are associated with visual hallucinations and delusions.

Study leader Professor Clive Ballard from King’s College London says that the drugs may stop sufferers being admitted to nursing homes.

“Psychotic symptoms are common and distressing for people with Parkinson’s and those caring for them. Psychosis is a major driving factor for people with Parkinson’s disease being admitted to nursing homes and substantially increases the risk of dying. But no safe and effective drug therapies exist”

After 43 days, patients taking the drug showed a significant improvement in SADS-PD score (which tests psychotic symptoms) compared with those given a placebo.

Additionally, improvements in night-time sleep, daytime wakefulness, and caregiver burden were also noted compared with placebo. No worsening of motor symptoms was reported in patients given pimavanserin.

Importantly, says Professor Ballard, “The clinical benefits of pimavanserin were seen by patients, those caring for them, and independent blinded raters alike.”

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