There is a new approach to treating depression with a medication that targets all three neurotransmitters in the brain, versus just two, like most medications on the market. 7News spoke with the local doctor involved in this clinical trial through Harvard University and found out what it has to do with sex drive and weight gain.
Since the 1950s, dozens of different pills have been developed to treat depression, but only target two of the three neurotransmitters. Psychiatrist and owner of Lake Charles Clinical Trials, Dr. Kashinath Yadalam said, "Most of the medications that are used right now to treat depression affect either the norepinephrine or the seratonin system or sometimes both."
Dr. Yadalam says these medications are linked to weight gain and a decrease in libido, causing a low sex drive. That can be something causing patients to stop taking antidepressants. "This is a serious problem. Sometimes patients stop taking the medications because of it or they continue to suffer in spite of taking the medications," said Dr. Yadalam.
The clinical trial that Dr. Yadalam is a part of is through Harvard University to test a breakthrough antidepressant called "Amitifadine" to treat depression with fewer side effects by affecting all three chemical pathways. "That is seratonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. If the dopamine levels are increased, generally it results in normalization of sexual functioning," said Dr. Yadalam.
For patients that are selected to be a part of this clinical trial, they will meet with Dr. Yadalam and a clinician once a week for 12 weeks, where they will talk with them about how they are doing and also be given a packet of the medication - a one week supply where they take two pills in the morning and two pills in the evening. But, only half will be getting the actual medication.
"In the earlier studies of Amitifadine, it showed that patients did not gain weight and that patients did not suffer sexual dysfunction, in fact it improved their sexual functioning if they suffered it during the course of their depression," said Dr. Yadalam.
Enrollment for the trial ends in September, then it will be time to submit the findings to the Food and Drug Administration and see if this could be the newest antidepressant on the market. "They will submit it to the FDA for review and if the results are robust, which we think they are, we may get the drug as early as the end of next year," said Dr. Yadalam.
Patients who are currently taking an antidepressant and not seeing much improvement could qualify for the 12-week trial. It does require visiting the Lake Charles Clinical Trials office once a week, but you will be compensated for your time and travel. Call 564-6405 if you are interested in enrolling.
*Amitifadine is the name of the drug manufactured by Euthymics. The clinical drug trial name is TRIADE.