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New Drug Fights Addiction

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"It's highly unlikely any pill is going to stop a behavior as complex as drug-taking all by itself," he says. "But this drug is a way to block the vicious cycle of craving and reward, long enough for other therapies to take effect. You wouldn't expect to keep people on GVG forever." Brodie is the Marvin Stern professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.

GVG has been tested extensively in rats and also in apes. "[The National Institute on Drug Abuse] promised us human clinical trials of GVG for addiction, although it hasn't been officially announced," Brodie tells WebMD.

That's not exactly the case, says Frank Vocci, PhD, who ought to know. "This drug has been under review by the FDA for over 10 years. There's a major problem because it produces visual field defects that may be irreversible." He's talking about a loss of peripheral vision, something most people don't even notice until it's discovered during an eye exam. Vocci is the director of the division of treatment, research, and development at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The NIDA did start to prepare clinical trails on GVG about two years ago, but ran into two issues, Vocci says. First, there may be problems obtaining a supply of the medication from the manufacturer; in addition, it's unclear whether the FDA will approve clinical trials. "We need to re-evaluate all possible information about visual field defects," Vocci says. "Right now, there is probably more unpublished information on this issue than published data."

When asked for an estimate on the likelihood of clinical trails, Vocci says, "I really don't know. It's a fair question, but I just don't have an answer for you. This is clearly a drug of great interest. If there were no concerns about side effects, we'd have started clinical trials two years ago."

Gerasimov and Brodie's study was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research and the National Institutes of Mental Health.


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