Trial results show statin drug does not slow Parkinson's

Simvastatin is a drug already used to lower cholesterol, and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Initial results from a major clinical trial show it doesn't have potential to slow the progression of Parkinson's as previously hoped.

Initial results from the PD-STAT trial show that, in comparison with a placebo (dummy drug), simvastatin was ‘futile’ in slowing the rate of progression of Parkinson’s. 

PD-STAT examined whether simvastatin, a widely-used cholesterol-lowering drug, had the potential to reduce the rate of neurodegenerative decline in people with Parkinson’s.

The 2 year trial funded by The Cure Parkinson’s Trust was conducted at 23 hospitals across England, with 235 participants with moderate stage Parkinson’s. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either simvastatin or a placebo for 2 years, followed by a final study assessment of their Parkinson’s 2 months later.

Why was simvastatin tested in people with Parkinson’s?

Finding existing drugs that are already approved and in use for other conditions that could be beneficial for Parkinson’s is an approach known as drug repurposing

If successful, repurposing could provide new treatments for Parkinson’s much more quickly and cost-effectively than creating brand new treatments from scratch. There are many existing drugs that have potential for Parkinson’s.

Previous research showed that statin use may lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s. Lab studies suggested statin drugs may protect brain cells from damaging processes involved in Parkinson’s. Simvastatin has also shown promise for slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis.

Claire Bale, Head of Research Communications & Engagement at Parkinson's UK, said: 

"These results are disappointing but mean we can now move on to focus on other promising opportunities to find new and better treatments for Parkinson’s.

“There are many new clinical trials on the way to test potential new therapies that aim to slow Parkinson’s or improve symptoms. People can find opportunities to take part in research through our Take Part Hub and by signing up to our Research Support Network to get the latest news and opportunities by email.”

Take part in Parkinson’s research

There are many studies underway across the UK that need people with and without Parkinson’s. From home-based questionnaires, to trialling new treatment approaches, you can make a difference by taking part.