A recent study found that some hepatitis C medications can relieve PTSD symptoms. Will it finally close the menu gap? The information provides data from war veterans.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a potentially chronic condition that not only interferes with daily life, but can also lead to other conditions such as depression or eating disorders. Despite the high prevalence of PTSD in the US, only two drugs have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment: sertraline and paroxetine. However, both active substances show limited efficacy in alleviating PTSD symptoms.
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“There are few effective pharmacological treatments and limited drug development,” explains epidemiologist Professor Jaimie Gradus. “Current effective treatments are mostly psychotherapies, which work well, but also cause problems such as many discontinuations and a lot of time.” That’s why interest in new methods is high.
Data provided by veterans
Because PTSD is particularly prevalent among military veterans, American researchers began analyzing patient data from former soldiers two years ago. The goal was to verify whether existing medications could potentially improve PTSD symptoms. In an initial analysis, researchers unexpectedly found that several new direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) — used to treat hepatitis C infection — are associated with improvements in PTSD symptoms. They now wanted to analyze these findings more thoroughly in the current follow-up study.
Viral drugs under control
To do this, the researchers examined the same patients as in the previous study, but limited the study group to patients diagnosed with hepatitis C. Participants received a combination of FDA-approved hepatitis C drugs including glecaprevir and pibrentasvir (GLE/PIB); ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (LDV/SOF); or sofosbuvir and velpatasvir (SOF/VEL). The researchers followed the patients’ symptoms related to PTSD and hepatitis C for 8 to 12 weeks.
The analysis found that the drug combination of glecaprevir and pibrentasvir had the strongest association with improvement in PTSD symptoms among the DAAs. The team found that GLE/PIB medication was more strongly associated with improvement in PTSD symptoms than LDV/SOF and SOF/VEL, which is consistent with their previous findings. “The magnitude of improvement we see with GLE/PIB is impressive and more than double that of paroxetine and sertraline. The next important step in this direction will be a prospective, placebo-controlled study in patients without hepatitis C virus infection,” says Gradus.
This text is based on a Boston University School of Public Health press release. The original publication can be found here.
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