Weight loss drugs could be used to treat cocaine addiction

pharmafile | September 21, 2017 | News story | Research and Development addiction, cocaine, cocaine addiction, lorcaserin, pharma, pharmaceutical 

Researchers at the Boston Medical Center are investigating the potential of utilising weight loss drugs in the treatment of cocaine addiction. The particular therapy in question is lorcaserin, which could be used to lessen the rewards associated with taking the illegal drug through targeting the brain’s serotonin receptors.

There is currently no approved treatment for cocaine use disorder, while lorcaserin is approved by the FDA as a weight loss aid for patients with weight-related medical problems.

Dr Eric Devine is leading the team in the pursuit of effective solutions to treat alcohol and drug problems using already approved medications.

“Finding a medication to help people stop using cocaine would be a real game changer,” he said. “We don’t know if lorcaserin will help people with cocaine problems, but prior studies suggest the potential that it will help people.”

“Patients are frequently surprised to hear that there are medications out there that could help reduce their cravings or reduce drug reward” he added.

The team is currently carrying out a 21-month long, multi-site study to investigate the safety and efficacy of lorcaserin in this regard. Devine said he hopes to gather 23 participants for trials, who will each be given the treatment for 12 weeks.

“Within two years, we will know if we have a drug (lorcaserin) that can help people to cut back or quit using cocaine,” he said.

If successful, lorcaserin could be used to reduce craving for cocaine and lower the reward from using the drug, though Devine warned that the treatment is not a ‘kill switch’.

“The goal of this medication trial is stabilisation – getting people to where they can begin to make lifestyle changes during the treatment period of the study. It’s a model of care that has worked really well for other addiction treatments,” said Devine.

Matt Fellows

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