Acorda terminates Parkinson's drug development after patient deaths

Acorda Therapeutics on Monday discontinued the development of its experimental Parkinson's disease drug, tozadenant, following several patient deaths.

The drugmaker paused enrollment for two tozadenant drug trials last Wednesday after observing seven cases of sepsis, five of which were fatal. Four of the sepsis cases were also linked to agranulocytosis, or a severe lack of white blood cells.

Acorda originally planned to boost the frequency in which it monitored patients' blood cell counts once the trials resumed. However, after assessing new information, the drugmaker decided weekly screening could not sufficiently ensure patient safety.

"Patient safety is our top priority," said Ron Cohen, MD, president and CEO of Acorda. "While we are deeply disappointed by this outcome, we remain committed to the Parkinson's community, which is in great need of new therapeutic options. We are grateful to the patients who volunteered for the tozadenant studies and to their care partners, clinical investigators, and the internal and external study teams."

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