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Hepatitis C drugs may help PTSD

Posted by Hugh on August 23, 2022, at 0:19:13

Despite the high prevalence of PTSD, the US Food and Drug Administration has only approved two medications to treat this condition -- sertraline and paroxetine -- and both have shown only limited effectiveness in reducing PTSD symptoms.

PTSD is also common among military veterans; more than 10 percent of US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) patients experience these symptoms. Two years ago, researchers at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and the White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Vermont began to investigate whether existing medications may improve PTSD symptoms, with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health.

During an initial exploratory analysis among a national cohort of VA patients, the researchers unexpectedly found that several new direct acting antiviral (DAA) medications used to treat hepatitis C virus infection were associated with PTSD symptom improvement. The findings were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Now, in a new, follow-up study, the researchers have conducted a more rigorous analysis to examine and compare the effectiveness of the previously identified DAAs in PTSD symptom improvement. Their new analysis suggests the most promising DAA for prospective study as a potential medication for PTSD in patients without hepatitis C virus infection.

Published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the new study found that the medication combination glecaprevir and pibrentasvir had the strongest association with PTSD symptom improvement among the DAAs most prescribed in the VA.

"Many people have PTSD, but there are few effective pharmacologic treatments and limited drug development for PTSD," says co-principal investigator and study senior author Jaimie Gradus, associate professor of epidemiology at BUSPH. "Existing effective treatments are mostly psychotherapy, and while they work well, there are also issues with them, including a lot of treatment dropout and they're time-intensive, so adding to the suite of treatment options for people is a high priority."

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