The prospect of an unapproved drug will still provide a significant advantage for a serious disease that does not respond well to current treatments is understandably attractive. Cancer patients are more susceptible to this type of unproven promise, but those with nervous system disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease are also eager to find better treatments than those currently not they are doing a lot for them. This reader is interested in a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
A new treatment for Parkinson’s disease?
P I have Parkinson’s disease (PD), and it is getting increasingly worse. My hands are shaking so much that it is almost impossible to hold a cup without spilling its contents.
Given the recent study using low doses of FDA-approved drug nilotinib against leukemia successfully to treat PD, should ask my neurologist to prescribe it off-label?
A. Nilotinib ( Tasigna ) is a leukemia drug that has shown promise in a study pilot 12 people Parkinson’s disease. Some showed an impressive improvement, but research is still in its early days.
Your neurologist may legally prescribe Tasigna for Parkinson’s disease, but most doctors are cautious about prescribing unproven drugs. Given the very limited experience with this drug for Parkinson’s disease, we think that caution is justified.
would be worth a conversation, however. Perhaps your doctor might refer to another clinical trial, or maybe he or she is aware of other treatment options that possibly you could offer some benefit.
What cost would Tasigna?
Although the dose for Parkinson’s disease was much lower than the dose for leukemia, Tasigna still be expensive. Cancer treatment with Tasigna costs more than $ 10,000 per month. Insurance rarely covers the off-label prescriptions.
Possible side effects:
One reason could be a reluctant doctor to prescribe a drug off-label is the possibility of serious side effects. We do not know if people in the pilot study experienced serious complications of taking a low dose of Tasigna for six months. It is used at higher cancer dose, Tasigna can cause rash, sugar, elevated blood, headache, blood disorders, digestive disorders, fatigue, high cholesterol, fever and joint pain, and other side effects.