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13.06.2006 – 12:04

Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH

More Than 80 Percent of People With Parkinson's Disease Experience Symptoms of Depression, but Nearly Half are not Discussing Them With Their Doctor

    Amsterdam (ots)

      - New Pan-European Sociological Survey Announced by the European
         Parkinson's Disease Association (EPDA), Reveals the 'Hidden
         Face' of PD

      Over 80 percent of surveyed people with Parkinson's disease (PD)
'often' or 'sometimes' suffer from depressive symptoms as part of
their condition, a pan-European survey(1) has revealed today. In some
cases, these mood symptoms can impact patients' quality of life as
much as the traditionally known 'motor symptoms' of the condition,
such as tremor. Despite this, there seems to be a barrier between
patients and their doctors when it comes to discussing depressive
symptoms during consultations.

      The results from the pan-European survey, involving 500 people
with mild-to-moderate PD and 500 specialist physicians from five
European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United
Kingdom) were announced today in collaboration with the European
Parkinson's Disease Association (EPDA).

      "This survey has confirmed what we've been hearing from people
living with Parkinson's disease and the people who care for them, for
some time", commented Mary Baker, President of the EPDA. "In many
cases, it's not the symptoms that one normally associates with PD
that cause the most distress. When your mood is affected, it can be
very difficult to maintain a normal outlook on life. Those who are
caring for people with Parkinson's disease often report that seeing
the person they are caring for feeling depressed is one of the
hardest aspects of the condition to deal with."

      There is considerable evidence that depressive symptoms in PD are
an intrinsic part of the condition, rather than occurring as a result
of it. In fact, mood symptoms can often precede development of motor
symptoms such as tremor, muscle rigidity and slowness of movement.(2)

      The survey has revealed that, although doctors do acknowledge the
likely presence of depressive symptoms in their PD patients, they can
often find them difficult to recognise. Across Europe, 97 percent of
specialist physicians believe that the majority of their PD patients
'often' or 'sometimes' experience depressive symptoms, but 49 percent
believe these types of symptoms are difficult to recognise. This is
perhaps related to another finding of the survey - that patients are
not always reporting these symptoms to their doctor. Around 40
percent of the PD patients who admitted to experiencing depressive
symptoms in the survey, said that they 'only occasionally', 'rarely'
or 'never' discussed them with their doctor.

      When doctors were asked the reasons for not discussing depressive
symptoms, the primary reason given was that they felt the patient did
not perceive these symptoms as being as important as other aspects of
the condition. However, when asked to rate the impact of depressive
symptoms on quality and enjoyment of life, both patients and doctors
rated them as being almost as impactful as the motor symptoms of PD.

      "What we're seeing here is a disconnect between the patients and
their doctors, when it comes to addressing this important aspect of
the condition. Research has been indicating for some time that mood
symptoms are highly prevalent and impactful in Parkinson's disease,
but when it comes down to individual doctor/patient relationships, it
seems that these symptoms are not always being discussed or addressed
on a regular basis", commented Professor Olivier Rascol of Clinical
Pharmacology, Toulouse University, France.

      Treatment options for depressive symptoms in PD

      Results of a new clinical trial, published recently in the
Journal of Neurology, have suggested that dopamine agonists, such as
pramipexole, could have an anti-depressive effect in PD. Pramipexole
is already the most widely used dopamine agonist for the treatment of
the motor symptoms of PD, but recent clinical trials have also
indicated that it could help improve PD-related mood symptoms, thus
indicating that dopamine agonists may be an alternative to
antidepressants in PD.(3,4,5)

      "We wanted to confirm whether pramipexole could improve mood
symptoms independently of its effect on motor symptoms," explained
Professor Paolo Barone of Univerita Federico II di Napoli, Napoli,
Italy. "In this trial, we therefore only included PD patients who
were not currently being troubled by their motor symptoms, but who
were experiencing symptoms of depression. We compared the effects of
pramipexole to those of sertraline, an SSRI(x), and found that both
drugs brought about significant improvements in patients' mood."

      Although there is still more research to be done, these early
results indicate that there may be hope on the horizon for people
with PD, and their carers, who are affected by the depressive
symptoms of this condition. Research in this area is ongoing.

      Notes to Editors:

      The 'Hidden Face of Parkinson's Disease' survey was sponsored by
an educational grant from Boehringer Ingelheim.

      (x) SSRI - Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor


      1. 'Hidden Face of Parkinson's Disease' survey was conducted by
Harris Interactive, worldwide market research and consulting firm,
January - February 2006.

      2. Marsh et al. Neuropsychiatric Aspects of Parkinson's Disease.
Psychosomatics 2004; 41 (1): 15-23

      3. Barone et al. Pramipexole versus sertraline in the treatment
of depression in Parkinson's disease. Neurol 2006 (early on-line

      4. Moeller JC, Oertel WH, Koester J, Pezzoli G, Provinciali L
Long-term efficacy and safety of pramipexole in advanced Parkinson's
disease: results from a European multicenter trial. Mov Disord 20 (5)
, 602-610 (2005)

      5. Rektorova I, Rektor I, Bares M, Dostal V, Ehler E, Fanfrdlova
Z, Fiedler J, Klajblova H, Kulistak P, Ressner P, Svatova J, Urbanek
K, Veliskova J Pramipexole and pergolide in the treatment of
depression in Parkinson's disease: a national multicentre prospective
randomized study. Eur J Neurol 10 , 399-406 (2003)

CONTACT: Ursula Bardon, Corporate Division Communications, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, 55216 Ingelheim, Phone: +49-6132-77-2622, Fax: +49-6132-72-2622; Elly Brookes, Shire Health International, Office: +44-20-7108-6533, Mobile: +44-7768-553-210, E-mail: elly.brookes@shirehealthinternational.com

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