Late Breaking News
Study: Common Medication Given for PTSD Has No Benefit Cont.
- Categorized in: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Depression, News, PTSD, Pharmacy, September 2011, TBI
Failure to Respond
To better determine whether atypical antipsychotics were truly effective in treating PTSD, researchers at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System looked at 267 PTSD patients spread across 23 facilities. The patients all had Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) scores of greater than 50, had failed to respond to at least two antidepressants and were not responding to SSRI treatments.
The patients were randomized for either risperidone as adjunctive therapy or placebo for six months. Researchers then examined the patients’ CAPS scores. The results showed a CAPS score decline of 16.3 points in the risperidone group and 12.5 points in the placebo group. The difference of four points was not statistically significant, the researchers said.
Looking at secondary outcomes, such as anxiety levels and quality of life, they found no significant difference between the two groups. The biggest difference between the two groups was in adverse events, with weight gain, fatigue, somnolence and hypersalivation occurring at a much greater frequency in the risperidone section. The study was published in the August 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
These latest findings have veterans’ advocates worried that VA is relying on unproven medications and that the end result will be a further erosion of trust between veterans and the department.
“I am greatly concerned that veterans suffering the ‘invisible wounds of war’ are receiving equally invisible care,” said Jimmie Foster, national commander of the American Legion. Foster expressed concern that, not only is Risperdal not approved by the FDA for treating PTSD, but also the approved drugs are not very effective against chronic PTSD.
“It is alarming that fully 20% of the [veterans] treated for PTSD last year were given a medication that has proven to be pretty much useless,” he said.
Last year, the American Legion created an informal committee to investigate the efficacy of existing treatments for PTSD and TBI. High on the list of the committee’s concerns is the misapplication of medications to treat PTSD and the overall lack of effective medications. The Legion will advocate for congressional hearings into the problems VA and DoD have experienced treating PTSD and for VA to speed up research into screening and treatment.
Currently, Risperdal remains on VA’s list of recommended medications to treat PTSD. According to VA officials, the department may be undertaking a review of its use in the near future. However, VA must conduct a policy review prior to any dissemination of any new recommendations.
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