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FDA approves first drug for Huntington's disease
Date:8/15/2008

to over-emphasize what this has meant to some patients, who are able to reclaim part of the life that they have lost due to this disease."

Marshall is part of a team of doctors, scientists and nurses at the University of Rochester Medical Center that treats people from more than 200 families from throughout the Northeast with the disease. He has treated patients with the disease since 1991.

"Patients and families with Huntington's disease maintain a courageous hope for progress," said Marshall. "On one hand, the FDA approval of tetrabenazine represents only a small step forward. This medication helps patients control their movements better, but is not known to slow the underlying progression of the disease. On the other hand, the FDA approval represents a giant symbolic breakthrough, since tetrabenazine is the first drug ever approved in the United States for any aspect of Huntington's disease. It is an honor to be part of the extended community of patients, families, and researchers trying to find a better way forward."

His enthusiasm is echoed by patients, family members, and doctors and nurses nationwide.

"This is spectacular news," said Nancy Wexler, Ph.D., Higgins Professor of Neuropsychology at Columbia University and president of the Hereditary Disease Foundation, which was started by her father one year after her mother was diagnosed with Huntington's disease in 1967.

"My mother and many others have died without the benefits of tetrabenazine," said Wexler. "Since the medication was invented in the 1950s, worldwide it has been give to close to a million people. We have a tremendous amount of information about its benefits, potential side effects, how to treat the side effects and dosing suggestions. This is day to celebrate for Huntington's patients and their families."

The drug does have some side effects, including the ability to worsen depression and to make movement more difficult. The drug does not a
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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