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Michael Liebowitz, MD: PH94B Shows Promise Treating Social Anxiety Disorder

Experts expect an increase in mental health issues caused by the pandemic in the future.

It has been several years since a new treatment for social anxiety disorder (SAD) has come on the market.

However, that soon may change with the advent of PH94B, a neuroactive nasal spray developed by VistaGen that binds to nasal chemosensory receptors to activate neural circuits that lead to rapid suppression of fear and anxiety.

Investigators recently published new data from a 91 patient randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled phase 2 trial where the primary efficacy endpoint as assessed using subjective anxiety ratings on the Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) significantly improved within 10-15 minutes of self-administration.

In addition, a 22-patient, four-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot phase 3 crossover trial, the investigators found patients receiving the study drug had a significantly greater decrease in average peak SUDS score compared to placebo within 1 week of treatment. There was also a significantly greater decrease in Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) avoidance scores for subjects who received PH94B first, before crossing over to placebo.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Michael R Liebowitz, MD, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, said new anxiety medications might become especially important with the expectation that many will be suffering from new anxiety issues centered around the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.