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Exelon Skin-patch for Alzheimer's

July 31, 2006

The Exelon (rivastigmine) skin-patch is a safe, convenient and possibly more effective method of drug-delivery than an oral tablet, according to a six-month study. Participants with Alzheimer’s disease who wore a daily Exelon skin-patch experienced fewer side effects than participants taking an Exelon pill.

Developed by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG, the Exelon transdermal patch releases rivastigmine into the bloodstream in a steady, continuous manner that ensures even dosing.

Study results showed the patch may offer potential for Alzheimer’s patients to tolerate higher drug-doses intended to raise the brain’s neurotransmitter activity, according to lead study investigator Bengt Winblad, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

"The patch represents an important new option for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families," said Winblad, who reportedly noted that the transdermal patch may be the best way to deliver rivastigmine as part of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Exelon has already received approval in several countries for the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease, as well as dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Clinical Trial

The trial by Winblad and colleagues involved 1,195 patients in 21 countries. Results showed that participants using the Exelon patch experienced reported nausea and vomiting three times less often, compared with participants who swallowed Exelon capsules.

Side effects included 6-8% of participants reporting moderate or serious skin-redness during the study, depending on which dose of Exelon was in the patch.

Transdermal patches are increasingly commonly used to deliver other drugs, such as contraceptives. However, Exelon is the first drug used in patch form to treat people with Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 15 million people worldwide and is the most common form of dementia.

The study showed that Exelon is also easier to use: >70% of caregivers who responded to a questionnaire associated with this trial preferred the patch because it was easy to use and permitted easier monitoring of treatment compliance.

Novartis reportedly expects to seek regulatory approval for the Exelon transdermal patch by the end of 2006.

Posted: July 2006