Most drugs attempt to treat Parkinson's disease by increasing dopamine that is lost as Parkinson's patients deteriorate. But spikes of dopamine every time a patient takes the drug can cause uncontrollable body movements.
Some companies have improved the drugs by making extended release versions -- Merck's
The portable pump provides continuous supply of the drug during waking hours. The trial will follow patients for 54 weeks, but the interim data at 12 weeks look promising. The drug decreased the "off " time when patients don't have control of their mobility and increased the amount of "on" time, when the patient's symptoms are well-managed. It also reduced the involuntary movements.
As with any study, there are a few caveats to Abbott's trial. The trial was open label, which means everyone knows that they got the drug. There's potential for a placebo effect to make the drug-device look better than it actually is and there's no placebo group to compare the results with.
The pump also requires a surgery to insert the catheter into the small intestine, which can potentially create problems that popping pills doesn't -- over 30% of patients reported abdominal pain, for instance. But only 7.3% of patients withdrew from the study because of adverse reactions, so the issues can't be that bad.
Stay tuned for the full results from this study (and another one expected at the end of the year) -- but it sure looks like Abbott may have a new product to pump in some additional revenue shortly.
Fool contributor Brian Orelli holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Medtronic and Abbott Laboratories. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Abbott Laboratories. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.