Several new substances and new uses for available products were evaluated in research projects reported at the 47th annual NIMH-sponsored New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit, held this past June in Boca Raton, Fla. The agonists included a melatonergic compound for depression, 2 new agents for schizophrenia, some g-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic antipsychotics, and several drugs being evaluated for non-approved indications.
Kenneth J. Bender, PharmD, MA
Precision of psychiatric drug safety assessments, availability of adequately trained psychiatric researchers, and participation of a diverse research population were prominent among the topics of several panels and workshops on research methodology at the NIMH-sponsored 47th annual New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit (NCDEU) meeting that took place earlier this year in Boca Raton, Fla.
Widespread media reports and billboard campaigns decrying a methamphetamine epidemic are drawing attention away from the greater and more entrenched use of cocaine, according to a National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) scientist speaking at the American Society of Addiction Medicine's (ASAM) 38th Annual Medical-Scientific Conference, held in Miami, April 26 to 29.
Bone mineral density (BMD) was reduced at a greater rate in older women when they had symptoms of depression, according to one recent report from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group, while another report implicated treatment with SSRI antidepressants.
About 60% of users of illegal prescription drugs receive them free from friends or relatives, H. Westley Clark, MD, JD, director, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), told attendees at the American Society of Addiction Medicine 38th Annual Medical-Scientific Conference
This May, the FDA called for a black box warning on antidepressants to indicate that patients aged 18 to 24 years are at heightened risk for treatment-emergent suicidality. But a member of the FDA advisory committee that recommended that warning has issued his own warning, saying that the "real killer in this story is untreated depression and the possible risk from antidepressant treatment is dwarfed by that from the disease."
The results of two recent studies suggest that antidepressant medication may have an expanded role in the management of stroke patients. Prophylactic use of antidepressants following stroke appeared in a meta-analysis to be effective in fending off depression, and a short course of antidepressants in a placebo-controlled study was associated with long-term restoration of executive function, independent of depressive symptoms.
In what was billed as the first randomized controlled study to simultaneously evaluate antidepressant therapy and short-term psychotherapy for depressed patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), treatment with an SSRI led to significant improvement, while addition of interpersonal psychotherapy provided no added benefit.
The addition of an antidepressant to a mood stabilizer did not add any benefit for patients with bipolar depression, according to an NIMH-sponsored research project reported in April in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the multicenter study, adding an antidepressant to the regimen also did not increase affective switching to mania.
There are any number of ways to measure the effects of psychoactive medications, ranging from objective assessments of behavioral change to neuropsychological testing to subjective global ratings by physicians or patients. Several recent studies have examined the question of whether medication-induced improvements in neuropsychological test performance correlated with gains in healthful functioning.