One important thing to note here is that we do NOT think that there will be medications in the near future that are strong enough to treat a methamphetamine problem on their own. Medications will likely be most effective in combination with a good counseling program and strong support (self-help groups, family, friends, etc.).So far, only one medication has consistently shown an effect in clinical trials: bupropion, which is also known as Wellbutrin (the anti-depressant) and Zyban (smoking cessation medication).
Two clinical trials have found bupropion to be more effective than placebo, when combined with counseling, in reducing methamphetamine use in patients trying to quit methamphetamine. But in both trials, only about 1/3 of the patients on bupropion were abstinent from methamphetamine at the end of the 12 week treatment (better than the 5-10% rate in the patients getting placebo!) and some groups seemed to benefit more than others. As a result, there is still work to be done in terms of finding a medication that can help all patients to quit methamphetamine. At UCLA SARx we currently have treatment clinical trials underway with bupropion which are trying to identify the patients who get the most benefit from bupropion (possibly via testing patients for bupropion responsive genes) and at the same time we are working on developing other medications which may work better or in different groups (e.g. ibudilast which reduces the activation of glial cells in the brain). Hopefully this will lead to availability of several treatment options that patients and doctors can choose from to treat methamphetamine problems in the future. If you are interested in finding out more about our clinical trials or even participating in one, see the clinical trials section of our website or call (866) 449-UCLA. Thanks for reading and see you next time!
Related links: Research and Clinical Trials
Tags: addiction medicine, behavioral, bupropion, clinical trial, crystal meth, ibudilast, keith heinzerling, medications, methamphetamine