Public Release: 

A 'first' for Parkinson's disease sufferers

Cardiff University

As many as 6,000 sufferers of Parkinson's Disease in Wales, UK are to benefit from an unique telephone counselling service, which is the first of its kind in Europe.

Pharmacists at Cardiff University's Welsh School of Pharmacy have created a Medicines Information Helpline for patients with Parkinson's disease, their carers and healthcare professionals.

Impetus for the service stems from the fact that no cure currently exists for Parkinson's Disease and medical treatment is solely directed towards alleviating the symptoms.

"Patients are likely to be receiving multiple drug therapy and may experience a number of complications. The patient's good knowledge of medication is, therefore, of paramount importance in managing their treatment," said Dr Sam Salek, Director of the Centre of Socioeconomic Research in the Welsh School of Pharmacy, who is responsible for developing the service.

The helpline, staffed by experienced pharmacists, provides independent expert advice on medicines to patients with Parkinson's disease, their carers and any healthcare professional.

Typically, queries include: How do over-the-counter preparations or alternative medicines affect existing Parkinson medicines? What are the side effects of Parkinson's medicines on driving? What do I do if I forget to take a dose of Parkinson's medicine? What medicines can Parkinson's disease patients safely take to treat other conditions? What new medicines are available to treat Parkinson's? What new research is currently under way on Parkinson's Disease?

Dr Salek's work on medicines evaluation and quality-of-life issues for Parkinson's Disease patients has attracted funding and support from the Parkinson's Disease Society and the Department of Health over the past three years. Most recently a collaboration between the Centre and the Welsh Medicines Information Centre (WMIC) has enabled a six-month pilot of the Medicines Information Helpline.

"The helpline is the only one of its kind in Europe and there is a strong commitment on the part of all parties involved in particular The Welsh School of Pharmacy, Parkinson's Disease Society and WMIC to sustain, beyond the pilot study, and to expand the delivery of reliable, clear and easily accessible information to all patients with Parkinson's Disease and their carers."

Parkinson's Disease is one of the commonest causes of disability in older people, with more than 120,000 patients in the United Kingdom and at least 10,000-12,000 new cases diagnosed annually. The number of patients with Parkinson's Disease in Wales is estimated at a minimum of 6,000. Prevalence and incidence will both increase with the ageing population and the reduction in competing causes of mortality such as, stroke and coronary heart disease.

The dedicated freephone number for patients and carers is 0800 3894436, available from 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. The number for healthcare professionals is (029) 2074 4861. Enquiries from outside Wales during the pilot period will be referred to local facilities.

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Notes to editors
The Centre for Socioeconomic Research, established in 1999 in the University's Welsh School of Pharmacy, conducts health-related quality of life and economic outcomes research. Amongst its work, it conducts quality of life and economic research amongst patients with cancer, kidney failure, and Parkinson's Disease; develops quality of life instruments; provides expert advice; educates and trains pharmacists and other healthcare professionals; and offers a resource base for healthcare professionals on a global basis.

Further information
Dr Sam Salek, Director
Welsh School of Pharmacy Centre for Socioeconomic Research
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 2087 6017
Mob: 07970 893929
Email: salekss@cardiff.ac.uk
www.cardiff.ac.uk/phrmy/cser/

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