Vaccines, Medicines to Treat Addiction on the Way

Many resist pharmaceutical approach
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2008 1:45 PM CST
This image shows the cover of the March 3 issue of Newsweek (on sale today). The cover story, summarized here, deals with the search for medicines that can treat addiction.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – It's been decades since scientists recognized that addiction is a disease, not just a lack of willpower, but only now are potential treatments coming online that address what Newsweek calls "a chronic, relapsing brain disorder to be managed with all the tools at medicine's disposal." The magazine surveys recent breakthroughs, from pills that prevent intoxication to vaccines that turn antibodies against addictive agents.

Some compounds have the ability to intervene in the cortex just as the impulse to drink translates into action, suggesting, as Newsweek puts it, that "willpower-in-a-pill may be just over the horizon." Such drugs may raise ethical and legal issues. "Lawyers certainly want to argue with us on the ethics of it," said a doctor who developed a vaccine for cocaine, "but parent groups and pediatricians have been receptive to the idea."