Get help today or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Experimental Anti-Addiction Drug Creates Buzz

A private drug development company has announced the initiation phases of testing a new experimental treatment that could render numerous forms of addictions obsolete.

The Future of Addiction Treatment?

Savant HWP, Inc. will begin human safety testing of a drug known as 18-MC, a nicotinic receptor antagonist which works to regulate and prevent excessive dopamine fluctuations in the brain. Although 18-MC has the potential to treat several forms of addiction and compulsive behaviors, the initial testing will focus solely on cocaine and opiate addiction.

A recent double-blind, human safety study from Savant’s South American partner found that human participants reacted well to the experimental drug.

Promising Results in the Lab

Preclinical testing for 18-MC took place for several years at the Albany Medical College laboratory in New York, led by co-inventor Dr. Stanley Glick.

“Dr. Glick’s work has shown the potential of 18-MC to treat addiction to a wide range of substances in animal models, including cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates, nicotine and in compulsive over-eating of fatty and sugary foods,” said Stephen L. Hurst, J.D., President and CEO of Savant HWP.

“I am pleased with our partner’s progress with the trial and that 18-MC has been well tolerated in the volunteers who received the drug to date.”Stephen L. Hurst“I am pleased with our partner’s progress with the trial and that 18-MC has been well tolerated in the volunteers who received the drug to date. Safety and dose-ranging studies are continuing, and we expect to present detailed results at medical meetings and in scientific publications at the conclusion of the trial.”

Getting Down to Brass Tacks

While 18-MC might be effective in treating certain kinds of addiction, there’s a distinct possibility that the drug may not make an impact in others. A 2010 research project published in the journal Addiction Biology found that, while Ibogaine and noribogaine decreased responsiveness to alcohol, no change was recorded in those who were given 18-MC.

In treating various substance dependencies, initial studies have shown 18-MC to be very effective in treating cocaine addiction. Glick said that the drug hinders pleasurable feelings associated with cocaine by “dampening the response” to dopamine. Without providing the physical sensations that addicts crave, interest in taking cocaine drops dramatically.

And while 18-MC is related to a naturally occurring substance known for side effects like hallucinations and severe nausea, none of those effects occurred during the human testing study.

“What the rat is telling you here is, ‘The drug is getting in, I feel it, but it’s not giving me the kick that it used to,'” explained Glick. “That’s really the essence of how we think 18-MC works. … No matter what dose of the addictive drug you take, it’s just not giving you the buzz it used to.”

Hurry Up and Wait

Despite the initial early promise, it will take years – at a minimum – before the drug is made available to the public. In addition to the extensive human testing that still needs to be completed, the FDA requires addiction treatments like 18-MC to demonstrate total abstinence among drug users in clinical trials, which many medical experts consider to be unrealistic.

Learn more about the types of addiction that can be treated.