Health & Safety

July 9, 2012

Neurotrauma, Psychological Health office partners with VA to study PTSD treatments

by Carey Phillips
Fort Detrick, Md.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common anxiety disorder that can stem from any traumatic event experienced by an individual.

While there are medications currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat it, they are not sufficiently effective in treating combat-related post-traumatic stress commonly seen in service members and veterans.

The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity’s Neurotrauma and Psychological Health Project Management Office signed an interagency agreement with the Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program, or VACSP, to jointly conduct and support clinical studies of pharmacotherapeutics for the treatment of combat-related Post-traumatic stress disorder, knowns as PTSD, in service members and veterans.

“The interagency agreement between USAMMDA and VACSP structures how the agencies will collaborate,” said Maj. Gary Wynn, research psychiatrist with the Neurotrauma and Psychological Health Project Management Office. “While the DOD may be funding the research effort, the VA is an equal partner in the project.”

“The VA is the primary location for Veterans to receive care so we need to be looking at their populations as well as those still on active duty,” he explained.

USAMMDA and VACSP will be working together to identify and develop alternate indications for existing FDA-approved drugs used to treat other disorders.

“While these drugs are FDA-approved, they are not approved for the treatment of PTSD,” said Wynn. “In fact, many of the drugs currently being used have little, or no research supporting their off-label use in treating PTSD.”

Currently, there are two drugs that are FDA-approved for treating PTSD. However, studies have shown that these drugs are less than 50 percent effective when it comes to treating combat-related PTSD. Additionally, the side effects from these drugs can be harmful to service members and veterans.

Although these drugs have helped victims of PTSD, worldwide they have shown limited benefit for service members and veterans struggling with the aftermath of combat.

“These studies are vital to understand if and how [the drugs in the collaborative USAMMDA and VACSP study] should be used in service members and veterans,” said Wynn.

According to Wynn, the collaboration between USAMMDA and the VA will ensure the highest quality of research.

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