Israeli drug is world's first proven to slow Parkinson's

Teva to submit results of Azilect study to regulatory authorities in the US and Europe.

Teva 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Teva 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Israel Parkinson Association welcomed with "excitement and joy" the results of a study showing Parkinson's drug Azilect (rasagiline), developed by Profs. Moussa Youdim and John Finberg of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, to be effective at slowing the progression of the chronic and fatal neurological disease, a first for any drug. The ADAGIO study, which treated 1,176 patients with early Parkinson's at 129 medical centers in 14 countries over a period of 18 months, is one of the largest ever conducted on Parkinson's disease. The treatment groups received Azilect, and their progress was compared with control groups. Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. has the rights to Azilect, just as it has control over and manufactures Copaxone, the other drug developed wholly in Israel (by Weizmann Institute of Science researchers) for multiple sclerosis. Azilect's impressive results were announced by Teva on Monday. Parkinson's disease is an age-related degenerative disorder of the brain whose symptoms can include tremors, stiffness, slowness of movement and impaired balance. An estimated four million people worldwide suffer from the disease, which usually affects people over the age of 60. In the randomized, double-blind ADAGIO study, the drug was found to be effective, safe and well tolerated. Teva intends to submit these results to the regulatory authorities in the US and Europe. Based on these results, the drug could become the first Parkinson's disease treatment in the world to receive a label for "disease modification." Azilect received the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration for sale in the spring of 2006. Israel Parkinson Association chairman Daniel Neuman said that "as Israelis, we are proud that the hope for all the world's Parkinson patients emanates from Israel, as Azilect is a blue-white, Israeli-developed drug. "Last year, we tried but failed to persuade the Health Ministry's public committee that recommends new drugs for inclusion in the basket of health services to put Azilect on the list, arguing that it was a vital drug. Now we believe that the results of the ADAGIO study will pave the way for inclusion" of Azilect in the basket, which will require all the health funds to provide it at state subsidy to relevant patients.