Cocaine Overdose Antidote Could Be On the Way

By McCarton Ackerman 04/19/12

A new antidote could reverse the most dangerous symptoms of overdose, including motor impairment and seizures.

There's hope that the antidote could curb
cocaine deaths.
Photo via

Experimental treatments for overcoming cocaine addiction have been known to the public for years, but an antidote to cocaine overdose could soon be out on the market as well. Investigators at the Scripps Research Institute have developed an injectable solution that can protect mice from an otherwise lethal overdose of cocaine, leading to promising signs for future clinical trials on humans for cocaine overdoses and the first specific antidote to cocaine toxicity. The study results, published in the March issue of Molecular Pharmaceutics, show that the "passive vaccine" reversed the dangerous symptoms of cocaine overdose such as motor impairment and seizures. The vaccine itself is made from pre-formed human antibodies and is 10 times more potent in binding molecules than an active vaccine, which helps drastically speed up the ability to reverse the effects of cocaine toxicity. "A lot of people that overdose end up going back to the drug rather quickly, but this antibody would stay in their circulation for a few weeks at least, and during that time the drug wouldn't have an effect on them," said Dr. Kim Janada, PhD, lead author and Director of The Worm Institute For Research and Medicine, at Scripps Research. The Scripps Institute reports that cocaine is responsible for 400,000 emergency department visits each year, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited 5,100 deaths from cocaine overdose in 2008.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.