Finnish drugmaker Orion has reported clinical data indicating that Stalevo, its triple therapy for Parkinson’s, improves both symptoms and quality of life in patients in the early stages of the disease.

Moreover, treating with Stalevo (levodopa/carbidopa/entacapone) earlier, rather than initiating therapy first with levodopa alone and waiting for symptoms to deteriorate, could be the wrong approach, according to the results. They indicate that patients treated earlier with Stalevo experienced an immediate and sustained improvement in symptom control that was not achieved when treatment was delayed by 6 months.

Staleva is sold by Orion alongside partner Novartis and is the Finnish company’s top-selling product with sales of 55 million euros in the first half of this year.

The 184-patient QUEST-AP (QUality of Life Evaluation of STalevo Asia Pacific) is the first double-blind study of its kind to compare the effect of Stalevo with traditional levodopa on QoL in an early-stage Parkinson’s disease patient population with no or minimal, non-disabling motor fluctuations, said Orion.

The results indicated that Stalevo significantly improved QoL compared to traditional levodopa therapy, with the treatment effect particularly significant for emotional

wellbeing, social relationships, communication and stigma.

An ongoing Phase III trial (STRIDE-PD) of Stalevo is looking at whether the drug can delay the onset of symptoms in Parkinson's disease patients. Results are expected in 2008.

The new findings were presented today at the International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders in Kyoto, Japan.