A promising medication to treat dependence on crystalline methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth or ice, is being trailed by a team of researchers in Australia.
The team, led by Associate Professor Rebecca McKetin, Curtin Research Fellow at the National Drug Research Institute, is conducting the world first out-patient trial of N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) for ice dependence.
NAC is an inexpensive generic medication, currently approved to treat various health issues including paracetamol overdose.
Dependence on crystal meth is a significant global public health issue, and Australia has one of the highest levels of use and dependence in the world.
There are currently no approved medications to treat withdrawal from, or dependence on the drug, leaving ice users without a viable treatment.
Unlike previous treatment options, NAC targets the changes that occur in the brain with drug dependence, making it easier for the person to control their drug use.
NAC has shown signs of working to treat dependence on several drugs, including cocaine, cannabis and tobacco.
NAC has particular potential for methamphetamine dependence because it is relatively low cost and can be delivered as a prescribed over-the-counter medication, reducing the demand on overloaded drug treatment services.
“A recent Phase I trial of NAC use in humans found a large reduction in methamphetamine craving, signalling the need for a Phase II trial to confirm this benefit and examine NAC’s effects on other clinically relevant endpoints,” said Associate Professor McKetin.
The Phase II trial will be conducted in collaboration with Deakin University, Monash University, the University of Wollongong, the University of Newcastle, La Trobe University, the Burnet Institute and Turning Point.
The trial is expected to commence in late 2017 and run until 2019.
Read more about this world-first drug trial here. Story credit: Curtin University newsroom.
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