New Antidepressant Developments and Approvals


New antidepressant development, until fairly recently, was at best a random, and at worst a problematic and frustrating, process. Often, medications that were developed for one thing were discovered quite accidentally to have much more important therapeutic effects for a completely different disorder. It has been well described that some of the original antipsychotics were originally developed to assist in anesthesia, and some of the original new antidepressants were originally intended to be medications for tuberculosis or psychosis. New antidepressant development was done on a "chemical" basis; that is, guesses were made as to compounds that would be safe and effective based on chemical structures of established medications. This was very much a trial-and-error process, since very little was known about how these drugs worked and very little could be measured beyond actually giving them to a patient.

New antidepressant development always has been and always will be a partnership between efficacy (ie, whether the drug is effective) and safety (ie, whether the drug can be tolerated by a patient). There were very few ways of knowing the answers to those two questions about any given compound unless you tried it, a process not without its obvious risks. It should be noted that vagus nerve stimulation for depression clearly meets the two main FDA requirements of safety and efficacy.

Medications to treat depression; mild, severe, bipolar, or treatment-resistant, make the news most frequently, and deservedly so. Their progress and approval can potentially benefit almost 8 million Americans who suffer from some form of depression. Because there seems to be more frequency now of depression that is treatment-resistant, meaning most methods of treatment (medications, psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, or a combination of more than one treatment) have failed for a patient, the approval of new antidepressants from companies like Merck, Lilly, and Pfizer, are more important than ever. This is because a new class of medication for treating depression has not been developed in over a decade.

Charles Donovan was a patient in the FDA investigational trial of vagus nerve stimulation as a treatment for chronic or recurrent treatment-resistant depression. He was implanted with the vagus nerve stimulator in April of 2001. He chronicles his journey from the grips of depression thanks to vagus nerve stimulation therapy in his book:

Out of the Black Hole: The Patient's Guide to Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Depression

The book was exhibited at the American Psychiatric Association's Annual Meeting in May. It is available on his web site and 24 hours a day/7 days a week through the toll free number 1-888-VAGUS-88. If you use discount code FDAYES(all caps), it will save you 25% off the cost of the book and you will get automatic free shipping via U. S. Postal Priority Mail.

The book is also available through Amazon. com and Barnes & Noble. com. The discount does not apply at these two sites.


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