Houston resident first in the country to receive new FDA-approved intrathecal baclofen pumpHouston, TX - 10/22/2012
Targeted drug delivery – the future of medicine
After a lifetime of enjoying outdoor sports like horseback riding, rock climbing, marathons, back country skiing and trail running, Janet Woodham is focused on a new goal – managing spasticity that has plagued her body for nearly a decade.
The 53-year-old West University resident recently became the first person in the United States to receive the MedStream™ Programmable Infusion Pump, a new FDA-approved intrathecal drug delivery system for the treatment of spasticity. During an hour-long procedure at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Dr. Richard Simpson, neurosurgeon at the Methodist Neurological Institute, placed the intrathecal baclofen pump in her abdomen. The pump, about three inches in diameter and an inch thick, is programmed to deliver a tiny dose of the antispasmodic medication baclofen directly into the intrathecal space around her spinal cord.
“We can deliver a significantly smaller dose of the medication to a targeted area in the central nervous system, programmed according to the individual requirements to control her increased muscle tone throughout the day,” said Dr. Stanley Fisher, co-director of the Movement Disorders and Neurorehabilitation Center at the Methodist Neurological Institute and assistant professor of neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College. “This therapy allows for targeted drug delivery that may significantly decrease potential side effects, optimize symptom control, and provide our patients with an improved quality of life.”
Research is under way to see if targeted drug delivery methods provide more benefit than oral medications in patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. Fisher believes targeted drug delivery plays a significant role in safe and effective treatment of many neurological disorders and should revolutionize medical approaches to drug delivery.
Spasticity is a disabling symptom that accompanies many neurological disorders and affects more than 12 million people worldwide. It is often caused by stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury. In Woodham’s case, the cause of the spasticity in her lower extremities is not determined.
“I didn’t want to continue taking the baclofen orally and deal with the fatigue, headaches and nausea. I realized just how much pain I was enduring over the years, so the pump seemed like the right option for me. I’m now able to function on a daily basis without the unwanted side effects of the oral medication,” said Woodham.
Patients considering an implantable device must first undergo a screening test. If the test is successful, a neurosurgeon implants the intrathecal drug delivery system, and a neurologist wirelessly programs the dose and flow rate based on that patient’s unique characteristics.