Drug Helps Manage Lupus

Prasterone stabilizes symptoms of autoimmune disease

THURSDAY, Sept. 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The drug prasterone is a safe and effective treatment for lupus, says a study in the September issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Prasterone is the pharmaceutical form of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), a natural steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands of both women and men.

Lupus is a serous immune system disease that causes symptoms such as fatigue, rash and arthritis. Women are nine times more likely than men to have lupus. Researchers have found women with lupus have abnormalities in the metabolism of two hormones -- androgen and estrogen.

This year-long, multi-center trial included 381 women with active lupus. About half received 200 milligrams of prasterone a day while the other group received the same daily dose of a placebo. Women in both groups were allowed to continue their course of standard lupus medications.

The study found that 59 percent of the women in the prasterone group showed improvement or stabilization of lupus symptoms, compared with 45 percent of those in the placebo group.

"The high response rate in the placebo treatment group should be interpreted in the context that this was not a true placebo-controlled trial, since most patients were treated with standard (lupus) therapies during the study. Thus, the statistically significant improvement in the prasterone group is statistically and clinically meaningful," study director Dr. Michelle A. Petri, of Johns Hopkins University, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The Lupus Foundation of America has more about lupus.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, Sept. 9, 2004
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