New drug being studied for stuttering

April 15, 2009 2:30:15 PM PDT
Doctors in this area are studying a medication that could become the first FDA-approved drug for stuttering.

The drug, called pagoclone, was being studied for anxiety when researchers noticed an interesting side effect - patients with a stuttered had clearer speech.

Dr. Shivkumar Hatti, of Suburban Research Associates, says, "The stuttering effect was quite noticeable. But what was also interesting, was when they stopped taking pagoclone, they reverted back to their stuttering."

Dr. Hatti says pagoclone affects levels of 2 brain chemicals - dopamine and GABA -which are believed to play a role in stuttering.

Lou Madonna, a local chapter president of the National Stuttering Association, says he's had the problem since childhood.

"I had a very difficult time reading aloud in class. Because the book was in front of you, it was in front of everyone in class. What you had to read was there, and you couldn't substitute words. One of the things people who stutter do is substitute words," Lou remembers.

There are 3 research sites in the Philadelphia area.

To qualify, a person's stuttering will have to have begun before the age of 8.

Study participants will get either pagoclone, or a placebo for 8 months. They'll have to make 6 office visits, and do 4 telephone check-ins. At the end of the 8-month study period, participants will have the option of continuing in an extension of the study in which they can receive pagoclone for a year.

For more information, call 1-866-469-0444 or go to www.stutteringstudy.com.

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