The European Commission has on today approved the use of a transdermal patch to deliver medicine to patients with mild-to-moderately severe Alzheimer's disease.
The patch is the first type of transdermal treatment for Alzheimer's disease and is applied once a day to the back, chest or upper arm of patients.
Experts say the patch improves compliance for Alzheimer's patients and also reduces side-effects.
"All these benefits offer the potential for improved outcomes in patients," said James Shannon, global head of development at Novartis Pharma.
"Exelon patch represents a therapeutic innovation that is designed specifically to meet the needs of patients, caregivers and physicians involved with this devastating disease."
Bruno Dubois, Professor of Neurology in Paris, France, agrees that the patch provides vital reassurance that patients have "taken" their medicine, adding: "Just having to apply a patch can help reduce the burden of family life for people with Alzheimer's disease and their families."
In a survey of Alzheimer's caregivers, 70% said they preferred the patch to oral medicines as it helped them follow their treatment schedules and was easier to use.
"People with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers welcome every new therapy for the disease," said Mark Wortmann, executive director of Alzheimer's Disease International.
"I am pleased that the patch offers a new approach to treatment."
"I think it will be a fantastic breakthrough for carers and patients" - Name and address supplied
"I believe the patch would be of great advantage to all concerned. It has been my experience as a long-time caregiver of a parent who suffers from Alzheimer's, that the oral medications are very effective. However, there does come a time when the patient forgets how to swallow properly or may refuse the crushed pills disguised in applesauce, etc. At the very least the patch would no doubt make life easier for both patient and caregiver" - E J Gardner, Waterford,
"At last I feel it would make a tremondous difference to some patients who suffer with Alzheimers and who continue to live in the community. Compliance with medication is one of the main difficulties for patients and their care givers and if it makes it a little easier and relieves the carers burden I think it is a positive step forward and long overdue" - Amy Lartey, NEMHPT