July 30, 2007
A skin patch that delivers small, continuous doses of the Alzheimer's drug Exelon throughout the day was approved for sale in the United States earlier this month. It is expected to be available in pharmacies in the coming weeks.
The "Exelon Patch" contains the same medication, rivastigmine, that is has been available in capsule form since 2000 to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer's. The medication is also available in a liquid form. The skin patch is replaced once a day and worn on the back, chest, or upper arm.
Various medications have been available as skin patches, which allow small and continuous doses of the drug to be absorbed through the skin, but this is the first such skin patch to be available for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
According to the drug's maker, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, the skin patch may be preferred by caregivers because it may be easier to apply than taking a pill. "The patch provides a visual reassurance for the caregiver that the patient is receiving their medication," they note. Because it delivers a small and steady dose, it may also be less likely to produce upset stomach, nausea and vomiting than oral forms of the drug, the drug-makers say.
The Food and Drug Administration also approved the use of Exelon Patch in treating patients with mild to moderate dementia due to Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive neurological condition that affects some 1.5 million people in the United States.
For more on the use of Exelon to treat Alzheimer's, visit "Drug Facts: Exelon."