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FDA finally approves a drug for Huntington’s disease

2008-08-18 16:10:03 (GMT) ( - Health & Law)

Washington, D.C. ( – Health Report) – Patient’s with Huntington’s disease are thrilled with the FDA’s approval of the drug Xenazine (tetrabenazine), proven to control the chorea, the jerky, involuntary movement which currently affects about 90 percent of people with the disease. The FDA states that ‘Huntington’s disease is a rare, inherited neurological disorder affecting about 1 in 10,000 people in the United States. The disease results from genetically programmed degeneration of brain cells. The deterioration causes uncontrolled movements, loss of intellectual faculties, and emotional disturbance. Huntington’s disease is passed from parent to child through a gene mutation. Each child of a parent with the disease has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the mutation. About 30,000 people in the United States have Huntington’s disease and another 200,000 are at risk of developing the condition. Symptoms commonly develop between ages 30 and 50. The disease progresses slowly and a person may live for another 15-20 years after the onset of symptoms.’

Cases of Huntington’s disease were first discovered around 136 years ago, therefore making Tetrabenazine the first of any form of treatment for the disease. Tetrabenazine is produced by Prestwick Pharmaceuticals in Washington, D.C. and many doctors have been aware of tetrabenazine since the late 1950s, even using it to treat various other movement disorders. Then in the 1990s, the drug was approved in Europe and Canada, but not in the United States. Researches say that it took a longer to be approved here because it was difficult to obtain the interest from a large company that would support it and get it into the market. Now, patients who suffer from Huntington’s have some relief.  

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