Large Scale Study Shows Antidepressants are More Effective than Placebo

Sussex Drug Discovery Centre

This week an article in the Lancet has shed light on the controversy surrounding antidepressants.[1] Psychiatric disorders account for 22.8% of the global burden of disease, of which depression is the leading cause. In 2016 there were over 64 million prescriptions issued for antidepressants, which is more than double the amount issued ten years previously. Until now there has been much debate regarding the effectiveness of antidepressant drugs in treating this debilitating disorder. This study has been pivotal in providing evidence in addressing this controversy, as previous studies have not adequately examined the long term effects of antidepressants.

The study looked into 522 trials involving 116,477 patients and found that all antidepressants investigated were more effective than placebo. However, they weren’t all equally effective: It found that the drugs ranged from being a third more effective than a placebo to more than twice as effective. Interestingly, the findings showed…

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Do we really need a new pill for anxiety disorders?

Sussex Drug Discovery Centre

Many treatments are available on prescription for anxiety disorders, so why are we still interested in studying new medications? This is the first question I asked myself when I started working in this field a couple of years ago.

First of all, I believe that long-term treatments for any sort of anxiety disorder should not be pharmacological.

GPs should encourage patients to start some process of self-understanding based on psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy as soon as possible. This is particularly true for children and young individuals who have more chances to learn how to control these debilitating and long lasting conditions.

So again, why do we need a new pill for anxiety?

Short and medium-term control of anxiety symptoms is another important theme to consider.

Recommended first-line pharmacological treatment are second generation antidepressants, whose efficacy in treating many anxiety disorders has been proven. Nevertheless antidepressants generally need 2 to…

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5 key points of a new drug for anxiety

Sussex Drug Discovery Centre

In my previous blog on anxiety, I discussed how the treatments available for anxiety disorders have modest efficacy or severe side-effects. Furthermore many patients do not respond to first line pharmacological treatments (principally antidepressants). Psychological approaches (such as cognitive-behavioural therapy) are often limited in availability. As a result of this, benzodiazepines are frequently used for short-term management of anxiety symptoms. It can be argued that benzodiazepines are probably the most effective and well tolerated medications for anxiety; nevertheless, their long-term use is not recommended due to the unfavourable risk profile.

At the Sussex Drug Discovery Centre with the support of the Medical Research Council (MRC) we are currently studying a new generation of anxiolytic drugs.

These drugs, similarly to benzodiazepines, act as positive modulators of GABAA receptors, the main inhibitory mechanism in the mammalian brain, but are selective for the ‘anxiolytic’ subpopulation of the receptor. This approach may result in…

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