Example of patchThe patch isn’t just for quitting smoking any more.

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Exelon Patch, the first skin patch for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

The FDA also approved the Exelon Patch for the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease.

Exelon is already available in an existing capsule form to treat both concerns. The addition of a transdermal patch helps to maintain steady bloodstream levels of the the drug rivastigmine (a cholinesterase inhibitor) for 24 hours. Like a stop-smoking patch, it is applied to the back, chest or upper arm of the patient once daily.

Exelon is manufactured by the Swiss drug company Novartis.

This method extends Exelon’s ability to be tolerated within people who take the drug. Because the drug is better tolerated in patch form, it increases its effectiveness over a wide range of patients. Previously, some people couldn’t take the oral capsule version of Exelon because of the increase of gastrointestinal side effects.

Novartis said that the FDA approved the Exelon Patch based on results from an international study that included nearly 1,200 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

The patients took Exelon capsules, wore the Exelon patch, or got a placebo treatment.

“Exelon Patch showed similar efficacy to the highest doses of Exelon capsules and the recommended dose (9.5 milligrams per 24 hours) was generally well tolerated by patients,” says Novartis.

Novartis said that innovation wasn’t just about developing new drugs but also about finding ways to deliver existing drugs in new ways to meet the needs of patients and caregivers.