Controversial Prometa Meth Treatment Fails Scrutiny

By Tracey Logan 11/15/11

A study published today has found Prometa's regimen to be no more effective than a placebo involving sugar pills and salt solution.

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The Prometa methamphetamine protocol—a controversial course of drugs and treatment reportedly costing addicts $12,000 a month in private clinics—works no better than a similar, but dummy regime replacing key Prometa drugs with sugar pills and salt solution, according to findings published today in the journal Addiction. The study, funded by Hythiam, the company that makes the drugs, found its own patented cocktail of drugs and psychotherapy to be no more effective than placebo at reducing meth use, keeping users in treatment, or reducing cravings. Prometa's meant to work by "normalizing" brain chemistry damaged by chronic psychostimulant use, and adding psychosocial counseling to support recovery and counter withdrawal symptoms. But although all the drugs it employs are licensed for medical use, they aren't licensed in combination specifically for the treatment of meth addiction. Prometa also claims to aid recovery from alcohol and cocaine addiction. Lindsay Lohan was linked to the Prometa center in Santa Monica following her rehab in 2007. There's currently no proven treatment for meth addiction. Hythiam’s extensive marketing of Prometa offered hope—and later research seemed to back its effectiveness—but the extensive new study, led by Professor Walter Ling and his team at UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, found the opposite.

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Tracey Logan is an award-winning science writer and broadcaster for the BBC and other media outlets. Her articles for TheFix include an a story about Prometa meth treatment and an interesting piece about relapse prevention. You can follow Tracey on Twitter.

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