Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) approves Opicapone for use in NHS Scotland

Opicapone could help people whose main Parkinson’s medications are "wearing off" before the next dose is due, a common problem which has a huge impact on quality of life. 

A new Parkinson’s treatment, Opicapone, has been approved by the SMC for use in NHS Scotland to help reduce "wearing off".

“Wearing off” causes Parkinson’s symptoms that are managed by medication, such as anxiety, freezing and slow movement, to return. This can happen in sudden and unexpected situations.

A recent Parkinson’s UK survey showed that three quarters of people taking Parkinson’s medication experience “wearing off”. On average, people with Parkinson’s lose 2 and a half hours every day when their medication doesn't manage their symptoms effectively. 

Opicapone is used alongside the main Parkinson’s medications to make them work more effectively for longer. 

Greater control of symptoms

Tanith Muller, Parliamentary and Campaigns Manager at Parkinson’s UK Scotland said:

“This decision is really good news for the 12,400 people with Parkinson’s in Scotland and their partners, family members and friends. It means that there is more help available for people with Parkinson's who experience debilitating symptoms, which can be hard to treat. 

“Some people feel unable to leave their homes because they know that severe Parkinson’s symptoms could return. Having a new NHS-approved treatment option to consider means that more people with Parkinson's in Scotland could gain greater control of their symptoms and their lives." 

Lack of public understand can make “wearing off” feel embarrassing 

Fiona Purchase, from Carluke, cares for her husband Martin who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 28 years ago. Fiona is pleased Opicapone will now be available for use in NHS Scotland, but recognises the importance of pushing for new treatments and public understanding. 

Sharing some of Martin’s “wearing off” symptoms, Fiona said:  

“Martin uses a different treatment, the Apomorphine pump, now as his Parkinson's is now advanced so he's gone from the position of having lots of tablets to take, to the pump.

"From our point of view, more awareness in the public of “wearing off” would be really helpful. Even professionals often don't understand it and they think that the person they see in front of them at that moment is how life is, not realising that within the hour things can be very different. The medication can wear off and the person can be totally immobile, frozen and struggling.

"We’ve brought up a family with Parkinson's and when it was most frustrating for Martin was when we were out and about and trying to do things with the children. You could be out and about and all of a sudden Martin would grind to a halt and there would be times where that was really tricky if we couldn't get going again or get the car close to him. There were times when we really worried about how to rescue that situation.

"On one occasion, we had to leave Martin sitting on a church step as he couldn't move and I had to go get the car to bring it close but people were looking at him sitting on this step just thinking he was drunk because of the state that he was in so it's quite embarrassing.

"It's great to see Opicapone has been approved in Scotland but there still needs to be more options. It feels like any developments have been so slow for Parkinson's and it's such an intolerable condition to live with and affects the whole family. 

"It would be great to see all the investments and work on treatments to go into Parkinson's in a similar way as it did to coronavirus. Everybody just got their heads together and tried to get something better more quickly and that would be brilliant.”