> Health Watch > FDA Approves Drug for Chorea Treatment in Huntington’s Disease

FDA Approves Drug for Chorea Treatment in Huntington’s Disease

Xenazine (tetrabenazine) has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) as the first drug for the treatment of chorea among patients with Huntington’s disease. “Xenazine represents hope for patients and families dealing with this difficult disease,” said Dr. Timothy Cote, director of FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development. “For the first time, there is a treatment that can help patients with this disease gain some quality of life.”

A rare, inherited neurological disorder afflicting one in 10,000 people in the United States, Huntington’s is caused by genetically programmed degeneration of brain cells, which leads to uncontrolled movements, loss of intellectual facultes, and emotional disturbance.

Chorea is the jerky, involuntary, and abnormal movement due to overactivity of nerve cells in the brain caused by the increased amounts of dopamine. Xenazine acts by decreasing the amount of dopamine available to interact with certain nerve cells, resulting to a decrease in involuntary movements.

Xenazine’s efficacy and safety was established through a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter clinical trial. Results showed that compared to placebo, patients treated with Xenazine showed significant chorea improvemet.

However, while chorea is decreased in the short-term, FDA still cautions health care professionals and family members of patients to pay attention to all facets of the disease, especially since serious side effects of depression and suicidal thoughts and actions were observed. Slight worsening in mood, cognition, rigidity, and functional capacity was also shown in the clinical trials.

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