A Cure for Meth Addiction?
UCLA researchers will be entering the second trial of testing the drug Ibudilast, licensed by MediciNova, to see if it will be the first cure for meth addiction.
Ibudilast, also known as MN-166, were administered to 11 meth addicts during the first trial while they were taking meth to see if the drug was harmful.
When researchers ruled the drug as non-harmful, FDA granted them fast-track approval, which accelerates the process of the review of drugs for serious diseases and illnesses in order to get the drugs quickly to patients.
If Ibudilast is proven to work, it would revolutionize meth addiction treatment, which includes extended therapy that may take over a year to complete. It would be the first non-opiate drug prescribed for opiate addictions.
Though not currently approved for sale in the United States, Ibudilast has been sold in Japan to treat patients with asthma and post-stroke symptoms for more than 20 years. The anti-inflammatory drug is being tested on its effects on the immune and central nervous system.
Meth addicts taking Ibudilast have seen a decrease in opioid dependence and tolerability.
The second trial, which includes over 100 volunteers, is scheduled to begin in the summer. Half of the volunteers will be randomly assigned to take Ibudilast, while the other half will be assigned to take a placebo.
"It remains to be seen whether these findings hold up in larger studies where its effectiveness will be established," said Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises addiction treatment centers.
"Nevertheless the importance of this finding cannot be overstated. There are no effective treatments for amphetamine dependence despite more than a generation of research," said Dr. Sack.
According to the Drug Enformcement Administration, methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug, which are "drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence."
Methamphetamine is a stimulant that releases up to 1,200 units of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of euphoria. Unlike cocaine, a natural stimulant that lasts 20 to 30 minutes, meth is a synthetic, or man-made, drug that can last from up to 6 to 24 hours.
Meth ingredients include pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, two chemicals commonly found in cold and cough medicines.
Meth withdrawal symptoms can include long-term depression and suicide, as well as increased risk for serious heart disease, neurotixicity, and Parkinson's disease. Many meth dependents will succumb to their cravings and turn back to the drug due to the difficulty of overcoming their addiction.