San Francisco Chronicle (11.08.11) - Monday, November 14,
A daily antidepressant drug was significantly better than
placebo in reducing methamphetamine use and sexual risks, a
new study suggests. Regular meth use among men who have sex
with men can double the risk of HIV infection, said study
leader Dr. Grant Colfax, director of HIV prevention at the San
Francisco Department of Public Health. The 12-week study
involved 60 meth-dependent MSM randomized to take the
antidepressant mirtazapine (Remeron) or placebo.
Participants underwent weekly addiction counseling and urine
testing to check for meth. Among those taking mirtazapine,
positive urine tests fell by 40 percent, from 73 percent the
first week to 44 percent the last week. In the placebo group,
positive samples fell by 6 percent, from 67 percent to 63
percent. The MSM in the treatment group also reported fewer
risky sexual behaviors than the men in the control group.
Reflecting a difficulty sticking to regimens that is common
among meth addicts, adherence was generally less than half of
prescribed doses for both treatment and control groups, Colfax
said. However, the fact that dependence was significantly
reduced is a good sign anyway, he added. Mirtazapine may work
because it targets areas of the brain related to drug craving
and reward, addiction experts said, but the results need to be
confirmed in a larger trial.
The full study, "Mirtazapine to Reduce Methamphetamine Use,"
was published in Archives of General Psychiatry