Popular diabetes drug 'could make anti-depressants more effective'
15:09 GMT, 2 May 2012
15:09 GMT, 2 May 2012
Anti-depressant citalopram was found to be more effective when used in conjunction with a popular diabetes pill
A popular diabetes drug used by almost a quarter of a million Britons could also treat depression, say scientists.
Actos, the brand name for pioglitazone, boosts the effects of antidepressants in patients whether they have diabetes or not according to new research.
Professor Shahin Akhondzadeh and colleagues treated 40 patients with moderate to severe depression with a common antidepressant, citalopram, either by itself or in conjunction with pioglitazone.
Over six weeks of treatment those who were also given pioglitazone reported lower symptoms of depression.
The preliminary study published online in Neuropsychopharmacology will need to be repeated using a larger group of patients, but the researchers say it has implications for how diabetes drugs which act in a similar way as Actos (pioglitazone) could be used to boost the effectiveness of currently available antidepressants.
A large proportion of patients treated with available antidepressant drugs fail to respond to medication.
Prof Akhondzadeh, of Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran, said: 'Despite the advent of several antidepressant medications, the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) is still far from optimal.
'A large proportion of patients with MDD do not respond to their first medication. To achieve favourable response, these patients are generally treated by either switching to another treatment or with augmentation therapy.
'Recently, combination therapy from the beginning of treatment has been suggested to achieve higher responses and remission rates.'
Actos is currently used to help to control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes
Actos was licensed in 2000 and helps to control blood sugar levels. It belongs to a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones which are widely used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Prof Akhondzadeh said: 'To the best of our knowledge, this was the first randomised controlled trial that evaluated the role of pioglitazone in patients with MDD without any significant metabolic problems.
'Our study showed pioglitazone is an effective and safe adjunct to citalopram in patients with moderate-to-severe MDD.
'In particular pioglitazone is associated with high rate of early improvement – and thus response and remission – which makes this drug a potentially useful augmentative strategy in patients with moderate-to-severe MDD.'