Groundbreaking new treatment for Parkinson’s available in Scotland

Produodopa, a groundbreaking new treatment for advanced Parkinson’s, can now be prescribed in Scotland. But we're concerned that a shortage of healthcare professionals could stop some people from accessing the treatment.

Produodopa, which can help people who experience movement-related symptoms, has been approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). It can be offered to people whose Parkinson’s symptoms are not well controlled with other medicines, and who are not suitable for deep brain stimulation surgery (DBS).

The treatment is administered via a small pump, which delivers a steady dose of medication via a tube through the skin 24 hours a day. This can prevent sudden and extreme changes in Parkinson’s symptoms which make life challenging for some people.

Produodopa is not suitable for everyone. We advise people with Parkinson’s to speak to their consultant or Parkinson’s nurse to find out whether it’s an option for them to help manage their condition and control their symptoms.

How this new treatment can help people with Parkinson’s

Marc Van Grieken, from Comrie in Perthshire, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006. He has been taking part in a clinical trial of Produodopa since 2019. 

Marc said:

"It has been transformational for me. I was walking with a stick before, but haven’t touched a stick now for 4 years. I have found my voice is stronger and people around me have noticed the difference, saying I look better now than I did 3 years ago.

"It is a little inhibiting at night, when you turn over or if you move during sleep. It can make some movements trickier, like tying your shoelaces, for example, can be uncomfortable depending on the exact position of the cannula. But at the same time it hasn’t stopped me from, for example, water-skiing. You can take it out for an hour, and then replace it, like a battery.

"It has given me, so far, 4 more years of good quality life."

Concern over shortages of healthcare professionals

James Jopling, Scotland Director for Parkinson’s UK, said:

"It is so important to be able to give effective treatments to people who are living with the most severe impacts of Parkinson’s and have very few options.

"Produodopa is an important advance because it can be used safely in people who aren’t suitable candidates for brain or abdominal surgery. So more people can benefit from better symptom control and improved quality of life.

"But NHS Scotland needs to be ready to roll new treatments out and we are concerned that shortages of key professionals, including Parkinson’s consultants and specialist nurses, could mean people still struggle to get the treatment they need. 

"Parkinson’s services need time to assess patients, initiate treatment and provide ongoing support to those using advanced therapies. With services already overstretched, and long waiting times for existing advanced therapies, NHS boards urgently need to increase investment in Parkinson’s support."

Clinicians welcome approval of new treatment in Scotland

Dr Zoe Muir is a consultant in Older People’s Medicine at NHS Grampian, specialising in Parkinson’s. She is also the Parkinson’s Excellence Network co-lead for the North of Scotland. 

Zoe said:

"We are delighted that Produodopa will be funded in Scotland for some people with very complex to control Parkinson’s. This treatment will allow them to receive a treatment shown to help manage the difficult fluctuations they experience with their Parkinson's, and is less invasive than alternative options.

"NHS professionals will need to work together with the manufacturer, health boards and clinical teams to ensure that the right support is available for this treatment now funding has been approved. As with other complex therapies in Parkinson's, specialists will need to carefully consider which of our patients could benefit from this new treatment."

Scotland can't wait for more Parkinson's nurses

The number of people with Parkinson’s is growing and more than half of Parkinson's nurses working in Scotland right now are due to retire before 2030.

We're calling for more specialist nurses to support the growing population of people living with Parkinson's in Scotland.

Read our Scotland Can't Wait report to find out more (PDF, 8.1MB).