There’s a new drug currently being tested by Las Vegas drug courts. The drug, Prometa, which is actually a combination of three drugs already approved for other uses, is being marketed by Hythiam, Inc. – although the company’s marketing practices have been criticized as unethical – as part of a drug detox and rehab program. Hythiam says it will reduce or eliminate cravings for alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine. Does Prometa hold promise as a viable drug detox option? Let’s have a look.
First things first: Prometa has not been approved by the FDA for safety or effectiveness. Several doctors have used it to help their patients through drug detox and rehab and some have reported favorable results but, according to the Hythiam website, clinical trials are underway to confirm these reports.
An earlier drug court trial, conducted in Pierce County, Washington to determine if Prometa would be effective as part of the county drug court’s drug detox and drug Cocaine Detox program, ended, according to an article in the Las Vegas Sun, with the funding being cut off after auditors found that the results of earlier studies were skewed to make Prometa appear widely effective, and that several public officials and the head of the non-profit clinic administering the program owned stock in Hythiam.
That said; let’s have a look at the drugs themselves.
Prometa is a combination of flumazenil, generally used to help regain consciousness after anesthesia and sometimes in the treatment of a drug overdose; hydroxyzine, an antihistamine used to control itching, motion sickness, anxiety and the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal; and gabapentin, which is used to control seizures.
* Flumazenil side effects include: seizures (especially if you’ve been taking benzodiazepines), headaches, sweating, blurred vision, flushing, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. You could also develop rapid heart rate, skin rash, mood changes, irritability, anxiety, mental confusion, nervousness, tremor, abnormal or jerky muscle movements and depression.
You are not supposed to drink alcohol or take other prescription or non-prescription drugs for at least 24 hours after taking Flumazenil – which begs the question of why it’s okay to combine it with other drugs in a drug detox or rehab program.
* Hydroxyzine side effects commonly include tiredness, sleepiness, dizziness, disturbed coordination, and stomach distress. It may also cause confusion, nervousness, irritability, blurred vision, double vision, tremors, loss of appetite, or nausea.
It increases the sedating effects of alcohol and a number of other drugs including benzodiazepines, narcotic painkillers and certain antidepressants and antihypertensives.
It should also be “used with caution, if at all” in people with glaucoma, an enlarged prostate, hyperthyroidism, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and asthma.
* Gabapentin’s most common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, coordination problems, infections, fever, nausea or vomiting, swelling in the legs, feet, arms, or hands, and unusual eye movements. There is a long list of other, less common, side effects that includes everything from tremors, double vision, nervousness and anxiety to bronchitis, ear infections and pink eye. Or you may experience depression or hostility, and severe dizziness, confusion, or permanent coordination problems. And, rarely, it can cause thyroid problems, high cholesterol, ulcers, hernias, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, sexual problems, arthritis and kidney stones.
Okay, so that’s what the drugs might do to you if taken by themselves. What happens when they’re taken in combination? Really, it’s anyone’s guess: how any individual will react to a drug or a drug combination is completely dependent on how the individual’s DNA dictates how the drugs are metabolized.
Should you try it? There are drug detox and rehab programs available that already have a track record and have been proven safe and effective. If you or someone you care about has been unsuccessful at getting off alcohol, cocaine or methamphetamine, it may not be for lack of a new drug – especially a drug combination that may or may not be effective and may or may not be safe.
Your best bet might be to stick with a medically supervised drug detox program, followed by drug rehab as needed, that uses a model that has been proven workable and won’t cause further and possibly dangerous complications.