The antidepressant drug fluoxetine – best known to the public as Prozac – has
been shown for the first time in a study to produce an improvement in the
functioning and a decrease in repetitive behaviors in a significant number of
adults suffering from autism spectrum disorders.
The research, conducted
by Dr. Eric Hollander – chairman of the advisory council of the International
Center for Autism Research and Education (Icare4autism) – is about to be
published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Fluoxetine, developed by
scientists from Eli Lilly and Company in the early 1970s and approved by the US
Food and Drug Administration in 1977, was put on the market in 1987 and went off
patient in 2001.
Since then, generic forms of the selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitor have been marketed as well.
The International Center,
established by Dr. Joshua Weinstein in New York seven years ago, is
building a Global Autism Center on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. The center will
enable the organization to convene and support an interdisciplinary global
community of researchers, educators and advocates; drive the research needed to
discover the causation of autism and its biologic and environmental causes; and
create opportunities for powerful collaborations that will bring better methods
of detection and treatment to patients and their families all over the
Hollander shows in his journal article that the widely used
antidepressant also alleviates repetitive behaviors in a significant number of
autistic adults. The study, funded by the FDA’s Orphan Products Division, will
be published this month in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the official
journal of the American Psychiatric Association. Its findings have important
Hollander, director of the autism spectrum program
of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in the
Bronx, said on Wednesday: “While research on medications for the core features
of autism spectrum disorders is still in the early stages, successful treatments
could greatly improve the daily lives of patients and their
Weinstein, who is CEO of Icare4autism, hailed the study as
“groundbreaking work that will lead to novel therapeutic interventions with the
potential to help the vast and rapidly growing population of adults with autism
all over the world.”
Stay on top of the news - get the Jerusalem Post headlines direct to your inbox!