New drug treatment Opicapone launches in UK

A new drug treatment for Parkinson's called opicapone (trade name ONgentys®) has been launched in the UK by international pharmaceutical company Bial.

Opicapone was approved by the European Commission in July 2016.

A recent study showed that taking opicapone alongside levodopa is helpful for people who experience 'wearing off' – when their Parkinson's medication stops working before the next dose is due and symptoms become unmanageable. Read the full study results on The Lancet website.

What does it do?

Opicapone is a type of drug called a COMT inhibitor and is similar to others already in use.

COMT inhibitors reduce Parkinson's symptoms by blocking an enzyme that breaks down levodopa, prolonging its effect. Read more about COMT inhibitors

However, unlike other COMT inhibitors, opicapone only needs to be taken once a day and so could reduce the overall number of tablets required.

It is also smaller than other COMT inhibitors which may be beneficial for people with Parkinson's with swallowing problems.

How do I get it?

Although opicapone is now available in the UK, it may take some time before it is widely prescribed.

For more information about getting the drug, speak to your Parkinson's specialist.

An urgent need for new treatments

Claire Bale, Head of Research Communications and Engagement, comments:

"The launch of opicapone in the UK is good news for people with Parkinson's as it gives us another useful tool for helping to manage the symptoms of the condition.

"There is still an urgent need for treatments that can do more which is why we're focused on funding research that will deliver new and better treatments as quickly as possible."