Members of the CBAM team and other UCLA colleagues recently published an article in the prestigious journal Addiction, entitled: “Randomized, placebo-controlled trial of bupropion in methamphetamine-dependent participants with less than daily methamphetamine use” (see full citation below).
Bupropion is an anti-depressant medication, often marketed under the brand name Wellbutrin™. In two previous randomized clinical trials, bupropion was found to reduce meth use in a subgroup of people who used meth less than daily. CBAM undertook a new, outpatient, placebo-controlled trial with the goal of replicating those findings. At the end of treatment, we found no significant difference in outcomes between those assigned to the medication group versus those assigned to placebo. However, among those assigned to the medication group, not everyone took their medication as prescribed. Those participants who were adherent (who took the medication a majority of the times they were supposed to) had better outcomes than those who did not. This suggests that Bupropion may be efficacious for reducing methamphetamine use in people who use less than daily, but the evidence remains inconclusive. To read the full article, click here.
These findings also highlight the difficulty in conducting translational research, or research that aims to make scientific findings applicable to the standard practice of health care. Much like a primary care physician cannot control whether his/her patient takes his blood pressure medication, it is difficult to control adherence in a clinical trial.
Citation: Heinzerling KG, Swanson AN, Hall TM, Ba YY, Wu Y, Shoptaw S. Randomized, placebo-controlled trial of bupropion in methamphetamine-dependent participants with less than daily methamphetamine use. Addiction. 2014 Jun 4. doi: 10.1111/add.12636. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24894963