London: Pioglitazone, an anti-diabetic drug which goes by the brand name Actos, boosts the power of anti-depressants in patients whether they are suffering from diabetes or not, according to a new study.
Shahin Akhondzadeh, professor at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran, and colleagues treated 40 patients with moderate to severe depression with a common antidepressant, citalopram, either by itself or with pioglitazone. Those who were also given pioglitazone over six weeks of treatment reported lower symptoms of depression.
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 existing anti-depressants. Many patients treated with available anti-depressant drugs fail to respond to medication, the journal Neuropsychopharmacology reports.
Akhondzadeh 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," according to the Daily Mail.
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.
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."