World Parkinson’s Day 2019: Promising pipeline drugs could be key to tackling the disease and address unmet needs

In light of World Parkinson’s Day (11 April 2019), there have been a number of successes over the past half century in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms. However, key areas of unmet needs in the treatment of motor and non-motor symptoms still remain, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to GlobalData’s report: ‘Parkinson’s Disease: Global Drug Forecast and Market Analysis to 2026’ the PD pipeline has traditionally focused on less risky areas involving reformulations and re-purposing strategies, while generally failing to deliver on new molecular entities (NME). However, this has changed recently as several first-in-class drugs have been approved to address key unmet needs, such as Adamas’ Gocovri and Acadia’s Nuplazid. Going forward, the PD market in the next 10 years will be driven by a combination of technological advances, innovation in drug delivery systems, and several first-in-class NME drugs.  

Alessio Brunello, Senior Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, commented, “There is heavy competition within the PD market; all current treatment options for PD are symptomatic and work by replenishing dopamine in the brain through various mechanisms of action. Levodopa-based therapies have remained the standard of care in the Parkinson’s market for the past half century, given that these provide the best relief of symptoms at a low annual cost of therapy (ACOT), with Sinemet and Madopar being the two most popular branded drugs.

Clinical development is highly active in PD and GlobalData has identified 12 late-stage pipeline assets in Phase IIb clinical trials or above. The most hopeful area for the future is in the development of neuroprotection/disease-modifying drugs. Roche/Prothena’s PRX-002, a monoclonal antibody (mAb) targeting the α-synuclein protein, is considered the most promising pipeline drug and is more likely to be a better target than Aβ as the clinical stages of cognitive decline much better correlate with the number, density and distribution of tangles than does the Aβ burden. PRX-002 would be administered to the majority of PD patients and therefore, the launch of this drug in 2024 will enable Roche/Prothena to become major players in the market.

Brunello concludes, “The focus in the pipeline in the next 10 years will be in the optimization of motor symptom control, treatment of non-motor symptoms, and in bringing neuroprotective therapies to the market. Although several products in the pipeline address these needs, a number of opportunities still exist. Gaps remain in understanding of the pathophysiology of PD, and therefore the treatment of non-motor symptoms and in turn the development of neuroprotective agents is lagging.”

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