NHS to offer Parkinson’s patients life-changing 24-hour wearable pump drug

A new drug pump is hoped to be a 'life-changer' for Parkinson's patients, ITV News' Correspondent Martha Fairlie reports

Patients with advanced Parkinson's diseased will benefit from a wearable drug pump that will deliver round-the-clock medication when it is rolled out on the NHS later this month.

The pump will give patients drug infusions throughout the day meaning many will no longer have to take multiple tablets, which can top 20 a day in some cases.

The infusion, known as foslevodopa-foscarbidopa, is administered through a cannula under the skin and is controlled by a small automatic pump worn by patients 24 hours a day.

It works by turning the drug foslevodopa into “happy hormone” dopamine, which in turn improves how the brain transmits messages to nerves that control movement.

It will help ease movement-related symptoms in Parkinson’s patients who are no longer responding to oral medication.

Dr Katherine Fletcher from Parkinson's UK explains how the pump works and how it could change lives

James Palmer, NHS England’s medical director for specialised services, described the move as “great news” for those “living with an often difficult and debilitating condition”.

He added: “This important therapy will now offer a vital new option on the NHS for those who aren’t suitable for other treatments such as deep brain stimulation, and we hope it will help nearly a thousand patients to manage their symptoms more effectively and go about their day with a better quality of life.”

According to the charity Parkinson’s UK, around 153,000 people in the UK are living with the disease.

An estimated one in 37 people will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in their lifetime.

Patients who take multiple tablets to manage Parkinson’s symptoms have described how they often struggle as the day goes on.

John Whipps, 70, took part in the clinical trial for pump. Credit: ITV News

John Whipps, 70, from Cornwall, who took part in the clinical trial for pump said it has given him more control over his life.

"Before this, I was on nearly 20 tablets a day just for my Parkinson’s symptom control, and then all the other tablets on top of that,” he said.

“I couldn’t plan to do anything, as you don’t know if you’re going to have an off day and need to stay at home.

“So this pump has made life much more plan-able. It’s just one pump change a day you need to factor in, compared to the constant regime of tablets at different times a day.”

Laura Cockram, head of campaigns at Parkinson's UK, said foslevodopa–foscarbidopa could be a 'life-changing option' for some patients.

She added: “There are very few advanced treatments for the condition, so we are delighted another one is available.

“The infusion means people will be able to better manage their symptoms and could potentially have a big impact on families’ lives.

Foslevodopa–foscarbidopa will be rolled out on the NHS in England from February 27, with almost 1,000 patients expected to benefit.

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