OBJECTIVES Despite the recent introduction of new peroral drugs as well as neurosurgical methods for Parkinson’s disease, treatment of late stage parkinsonian patients remains difficult and many patients become severely handicapped because of fluctuations in their motor status. Injections and infusions of apomorphine has been suggested as an alternative in the treatment of these patients, but the number of studies describing the effects of such a treatment over longer time periods is still limited. The objective was to investigate the therapeutic response and range of side effects during long term treatment with apomorphine in advanced Parkinson’s disease.
METHODS Forty nine patients (30 men, 19 women; age range 42–80 years) with Parkinson’s disease were treated for 3 to 66 months with intermittent subcutaneous injections or continuous infusions of apomorphine.
RESULTS Most of the patients experienced a long term symptomatic improvement. The time spent in “off” was significantly reduced from 50 to 29.5% with injections and from 50 to 25% with infusions of apomorphine. The quality of the remaining “off” periods was improved with infusion treatment, but was relatively unaffected by apomorphine injections. The overall frequency and intensity of dyskinesias did not change. The therapeutic effects of apomorphine were stable over time. The most common side effect was local inflammation at the subcutaneous infusion site, whereas the most severe were psychiatric side effects occurring in 44% of the infusion and 12% of the injection treated patients.
CONCLUSION Subcutaneous apomorphine is a highly effective treatment which can substantially improve the symptomatology in patients with advanced stage Parkinson’s disease over a prolonged period of time.
- Parkinson’s disease
- dopamine agonist
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