When the government decides to fund research of your drug for a new indication, that's good news, right? If your drug performs, then yes. In the case of Forest Laboratories' Celexa (and several generic versions of the drug, known as citalopram), the answer's no. A large, NIH-funded trial found that the med doesn't help autistic kids reduce repetitive behaviors.
Repetitive behavior is one of the hallmarks of the condition, and Celexa had been considered a potential aid because it helps children with obsessive-compulsive disorder--which also is marked by repetitive behaviors. But at the end of a 12-week study, there was no difference between the Celexa kids and the placebo kids, in terms of general functioning or repetitive behavior.
"In fact these medications may not be what we once that they would be, at least for children," Yale psychiatry professor Fred Volkmar, who wrote a commentary accompanying the study, told the Wall Street Journal Health Blog. "Clinicians need to think carefully, as they always do, about psychopharmacology in children."
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