What: Weisler is the lead investigator in a phase-3 clinical study which found that the drug quetiapine fumarate, currently used for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, may also help people with a form of clinical depression known as major depressive disorder (MDD).
The six-week, randomized, multicenter, double-blind study of 723 patients found significantly reduced depression scores by day 4 of treatment in all quetiapine XR (extended release) dosage groups versus placebo.
Weisler notes that with existing antidepressants, it usually takes two to three weeks or longer for patients with MDD to begin showing response to treatment.
It is estimated about 15 million people in the United States have MDD, making it a leading cause of disability. The condition is also a significant risk for suicide – up to 15 percent of people with severe depression die by suicide. Up to a third of patients currently have a satisfactory response to treatment for MDD with antidepressants.
Quetiapine XR has not yet been approved by the FDA for treating MDD.
Where: Weisler will present the results of the study Monday (May 5) at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
To hear an audio interview with Weisler on the study findings, go to:
To see a copy of Weisler’s poster presentation at the APA annual meeting, go to: uncnews.unc.edu/images/stories/news/health/2008/wesler%20apa%202008%20poster.pdf
Note: Dr. Weisler is available for interviews by phone upon request.