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Parkinson's Disease Space Again Under Spotlight This Week

Zacks Equity Research

The spotlight is again on the Parkinson’s Disease (PD) space this week. It has turned out to be an important focus area with Adamas Pharmaceuticals ADMS launching its PD drug, Gocovri, and Pfizer PFE dropping its plans to develop treatments for the indication.

Adamas Pharmaceuticals has of late announced a full commercial launch of its lead product, Gocovri, in the United States for treating dyskinesia in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), who are on levodopa-based therapy. The drug was approved by the FDA last August, based on positive data from two phase III studies. Significantly, this is the first and the only drug to receive an approval for this indication in the United States.

Pfizer reportedly announced that it will abandon plans to develop treatments for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Per news sources, Pfizer expects this decision to lead to eliminate 300 positions from the neuroscience discovery and early development programs.

Let us take a look at what is happening in this difficult-to-treat disease space.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, degenerative neurological movement disorder, resulting from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. This disease mainly progresses with age.

It is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s. Nearly seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease. Around 1.5 million people in the United States are suffering from this indication with approximately 60,000 people diagnosed with the disease annually. Of this, almost 40% cases prove fatal each year.

Additionally, the disease is expected to claim patients by multiplying to more than double within 2040. The combined direct and indirect cost of Parkinson’s including treatment, social security payments and the lost income from inability to work, is estimated at nearly $25 billion per annum in the United States alone. Per GBI Research, the Parkinson’s disease market is estimated to touch $3.2 billion by 2021 at a CAGR of 5.7%.

With the incidence of the disease rising globally, given a rapid increase in greying populace, the research for innovative therapies in Parkinson’s space has grown in the last decade.  

Present Drugs Show Side Effects

It has been observed that PD patients under traditional medications like levodopa often suffer side effects. However, despite this drawback, PD is predominantly treated with levodopa and dopamine agonists. Key medicines that dominate the PD market include Israeli Teva Pharmaceuticals' TEVA Azilect, Belgium-based UCB SA’s Neupro and Swiss giant Novartis' NVS Stalevo. Most of these are levodopa-based. However, loss of patent exclusivity of all these products is hurting the drugs’ sales.

What’s in the Pipeline

Many companies are trying to develop and introduce Parkinson’s disease treatments to the market. These include Acorda Therapeutics’s Inbrija, Prothena Corporation’s PRX002, AstraZeneca’s MEDI1341, Edison Pharma’s Vatiquinone, Prexton Therapeutics’ Foliglurax and Prana Biotechnology’s PBT434.

Notably, Acorda’s Inbrija is likely to first hit the market with the FDA expected to respond to the company’s resubmission of new drug application (NDA) in December 2017, within 74 days and also permits a full review in February 2018.

To be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is a life-changing affair. Apart from a costly treatment, the disease substantially degrades one’s quality of life and the capacity to carry on with daily activities. The severity of Parkinson’s stretches to such an extent that 37% patients with this disorder are forced to retire earlier than those unaffected.

Moreover, lack of curative therapies in this particular area is increasing the need for a better treatment option. Therefore the market opportunity to bring in innovative products to this space is huge, attracting more players in the process to come up with improved treatment choices to cater to the widely gaping unmet need.

Many biopharmaceutical companies are implementing the latest knowhow and technologies to improve treatment options for Parkinson’s. Therefore this space is projected as a vital platform with lot of updates awaited in the near term.

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