Continuous Drug Delivery in Parkinson’s Disease
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Development of motor and non-motor complications during the course of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a major challenge for therapeutic management. At advanced disease stages, patients frequently fluctuate between PD symptoms–such as bradykinesia–and dyskinesias, in response to fluctuations in drug concentrations. Continuous subcutaneous infusion of the dopamine agonist apomorphine or intestinal infusion of levodopa reduce such fluctuations in both pharmacokinetics and motor function. This is the basis for the concept of continuous drug delivery in PD, and the more theoretical concept of continuous dopaminergic stimulation. These expressions are sometimes used to describe a treatment that is more continuous in its pharmacokinetic profile or that produces more sustained effects, compared with immediate-release levodopa, i.e. not only pump treatments. For example, sustained-release formulations of levodopa or dopamine agonists, transdermal delivery of rotigotine, and addition of catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors or monoamine oxidase-B inhibitors have been developed with the aim to provide more continuous drug concentrations, sustained benefits and minimized side effects. Progress has been made, but there are still knowledge gaps regarding how these treatment alternatives can be optimally used. New treatments are currently being developed to provide the continuous drug delivery that is known to successfully alleviate motor and non-motor complications. Hopefully, although not yet proven, these new methods may also prevent or postpone some of the late-stage complications.