Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 31st 2016 Contents A24 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Saturday, December 31, 2016
Could a narcolepsy drug
help combat food addiction?
A prescription drug used to treat narcolep-
sy and other sleep disorders has the potential
to help people whose obesity is driven by food
addiction. This is the conclusion of a new study
published in the journal Personality and Indi-
Researchers suggest that a drug used to treat nar-
colepsy may also help tackle obesity driven by food
addiction. Study co-author Prof. Ivo Vlaev, of the
University of Warwick's Business School in the United
Kingdom, and colleagues found that the drug modaf-
inil (brand name Provigil) reduces impulsive behav-
iour---a key contributor to food addiction. Modafinil
is a wakefulness-promoting agent prescribed for the
treatment of excessive sleepiness caused by narcolep-
sy, obstructive sleep apnea, and shift work disorder.
While the actions of modafinil are not fully under-
stood, it is believed that the drug promotes wakeful-
ness by altering levels of neurotransmitters in the brain
that regulate sleep and wakefulness, such as serotonin.
Additionally, studies have suggested that modafinil
can increase levels of dopamine in the brain---a neu-
rotransmitter involved in reward and addiction.
Research has also shown that people with food
addiction often lack specific forms of dopamine
and, since food can trigger the release of dopamine,
researchers speculate that food addicts engage in
uncontrollable eating in an attempt to fill this void.
Furthermore, Prof. Vlaev and team note that modafinil
seems to reduce impulsiveness in a variety of condi-
tions, including schizophrenia, attention deficit hy-
peractivity disorder (ADHD), and alcohol dependence.
A prescription drug used to treat narcolepsy and other sleep disorders has the
potential to help people whose obesity is driven by food addiction.
The high prices Americans pay for generic
drugs may have been cooked up by pharma-
ceutical salespeople on golf courses, at a New
Jersey steakhouse or over drinks at "Girls
Nights Out" in Minnesota.
Details emerging from an investigation show that
drug-company employees gathered regularly at
such places and conspired to keep prices and profits
high, according to interviews and a complaint filed
in US District Court by the attorneys general of
20 US states, including Washington.
"The wining and the dining and the dinners and
the social repertoire sort of led to an atmosphere in
which follow-up conversations could occur (and)
where price-fixing could occur ... because they had
these relationships," Minnesota Attorney General
Lori Swanson said in an interview. "I think people
should be absolutely appalled."
The lawsuit hits home for many middle-class
US families who have struggled in recent years to
pay for generic medications while prices for some
drugs soared more than 8,000 per cent. The price
for a decades-old antibiotic called doxycycline,
for example, jumped from US$20 for a bottle of
500 pills in October 2013 to more than US$1,800
in April 2014. That price increase was the result
of secret efforts by generic drugmakers to make
as much money as possible, the complaint says.
"It is unconscionable for anyone to manipu-
late the system in order to line their pockets at the
expense of people who need access to affordable
medications in order to remain healthy," Maine
Attorney General Janet T. Mills said. The ongoing
attorneys- general investigation began in 2014,
according to the complaint, and has "uncov-
ered evidence of a broad, well-coordinated and
long-running series of schemes." (www.seattletimes.
Since impulsive behavior is considered a key factor
in food addiction, the team speculates that the drug
could benefit people who are obese as a result of food
cravings. For their study, Prof. Vlaev and colleagues set
out to further investigate the link between modafinil
and impulsivity. The researchers enrolled 60 healthy
men aged 19-32 and allocated them to one of three
groups. One group was treated with modafinil, anoth-
er group was treated with atomoxetine (a drug used to
treat ADHD), and the final group received a placebo.
The team found that the men who took modaf-
inil showed a significant reduction in impulsivity,
while atomoxetine was no better than a placebo for
the men's self-control.
Alleged scheme to fix
generic-drug prices started as
dinners and 'Girls Nights Out'
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