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Mirtazapine for Treating Cocaine Dependent Individuals Who Also Suffer From Depression

This study has been completed.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
New York State Psychiatric Institute Identifier:
First received: November 3, 2005
Last updated: October 29, 2013
Last verified: October 2013
Many substance dependent individuals also suffer from depression. Past research suggests that antidepressant medication is helpful in treating such individuals. This study will determine the effectiveness of mirtazapine, an antidepressant medication, in treating cocaine dependent individuals who also suffer from depression. This study includes free treatment for cocaine dependence that includes medication and a behavioral intervention.

Condition Intervention Phase
Cocaine Dependence
Drug: Mirtazapine
Drug: Placebo
Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Placebo Controlled Trial of Mirtazapine for Patients With Depression and Cocaine Dependence

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by New York State Psychiatric Institute:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Cocaine use measured by self reported use [ Time Frame: measured daily by self report for 8 weeks of the trial or length of study participation ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]

Enrollment: 107
Study Start Date: May 2006
Study Completion Date: December 2012
Primary Completion Date: December 2012 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Active Comparator: Mirtazapine
Mirtazapine will be administered on a fixed-flexible schedule, with dose titrated up to 60 mg per day or the maximum tolerated dose.
Drug: Mirtazapine
Other Name: Remeron
Placebo Comparator: Placebo
Drug: Placebo

Detailed Description:

Cocaine abuse and depression often occur together. Individuals suffering from both are usually not able to quit abusing cocaine. Past research conducted on alcohol dependent individuals also suffering from depression showed that these individuals were able to successfully quit drinking with the addition of an antidepressant medication. Mirtazapine is a medication currently used to treat depression. This study will evaluate the efficacy of mirtazapine, used in combination with behavioral therapy, in treating cocaine dependent individuals who also suffer from depression.

Participants in this 8-week trial will be randomly assigned to receive either mirtazapine or placebo. Prior to starting medication treatment, participants will undergo an initial 2-week phase consisting of psychosocial and behavioral therapy. The purpose of this lead-in phase is to achieve initial reduction or abstinence in cocaine use, while observing cocaine withdrawal symptoms and mood changes associated with depression. During these first 2 weeks, participants will attend three study visits each week, at which time they will participate in motivational interviews and cognitive behavioral relapse prevention therapy. During this phase, participants who successfully remain abstinent from cocaine use will be rewarded with high-value monetary vouchers.

Upon completing the lead-in phase, participants will be randomly assigned to receive either mirtazapine or placebo. Participants will attend study visits twice each week for 8 weeks. Mood and drug use will be evaluated at each study visit. Cognitive behavioral relapse prevention therapy will continue throughout the study. In addition, participants will earn low-value monetary vouchers contingent on cocaine abstinence.

At the end of Week 8, participants will enter the lead-out phase. At this time, those participants whose mood has significantly improved will be able to continue treatment for an additional 8 weeks. Participants whose mood has not shown improvement will be tapered off their assigned medication treatment and will be offered treatment with an alternative medication. Following completion of the lead-out phase, all participants will be referred for continuing care in the community.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 60 Years   (Adult)
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Meets DSM-IV criteria for current cocaine dependence
  • Currently seeking treatment for cocaine dependence
  • Used cocaine for at least one day per 2-week period in the month prior to study entry
  • Meets DSM-IV criteria for current major depression or dysthymia syndrome
  • Scores greater than 12 on the Baseline 21 Hamilton Depression Scale
  • Ages 18-60

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Meets DSM-IV criteria for past mania (e.g., bipolar disorder), schizophrenia, or any psychotic disorder other than transient psychosis due to drug abuse
  • Scores less than 11 on the Baseline 21 Hamilton Depression Scale
  • History of seizures
  • History of an allergic reaction to mirtazapine
  • Chronic organic mental disorder
  • Current suicidal risks or any history of suicidal behavior
  • Pregnant, breastfeeding, or unwilling to use an adequate method of contraception for the duration of the study
  • Unstable physical disorders, including high blood pressure, acute hepatitis, or diabetes
  • Coronary vascular disease as indicated by history, or suspected by abnormal electrocardiogram, or history of cardiac symptoms
  • Cardiac conduction system disease, as indicated by an electrocardiogram QRS duration greater than 0.11
  • History of failure to respond to a previous trial of mirtazapine
  • Currently taking psychotropic medication
  • Meets DSM-IV criteria for opioid or sedative-hypnotic dependence
  • Meets DSM-IV criteria for alcohol dependence with evidence of clinically significant physiological dependence in need of medically supervised detoxification
  • Current alcohol or marijuana dependence identified as the main problem for seeking treatment; individuals with alcohol or marijuana dependence (without significant physiological dependence) and cocaine dependence are eligible, as long as cocaine is identified as the primary substance problem for which they are seeking treatment
  • History of neutropenia (< 500 granulocytes /cc) or Agranulocytosis (<500 granulocytes/cc) with fever, infection. Concurrent intake of medications with possible neutropenic effects: chlorpromazine, carbamazepine, clozapine, chemotherapeutic drugs, immunosuppressant medications, interferons, ganciclovir, protease inhibitors.
  • Patients not able to meet attendance requirement of 4/6 visits during the lead-in period.
  • Supplemental exclusion criteria for cold pressor test (CPT): history of frostbite, open cut or sore on foot to be immersed, history of Raynaud's phenomenon.
  • Supplemental exclusion criteria for CPT: hypertension (BP less than or equal 140/90)
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00249444

United States, New York
Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc.
New York, New York, United States, 10032
Sponsors and Collaborators
New York State Psychiatric Institute
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Principal Investigator: Herbert Kleber, MD New York State Psychiatric Institute
  More Information

Additional Information:
Responsible Party: New York State Psychiatric Institute Identifier: NCT00249444     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: #5086 NIDA-09236-13  P50DA009236  P50DA009236-13  DPMC 
Study First Received: November 3, 2005
Last Updated: October 29, 2013
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Depressive Disorder
Cocaine-Related Disorders
Behavioral Symptoms
Mood Disorders
Mental Disorders
Substance-Related Disorders
Chemically-Induced Disorders
Anesthetics, Local
Central Nervous System Depressants
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Sensory System Agents
Peripheral Nervous System Agents
Vasoconstrictor Agents
Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors
Membrane Transport Modulators
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Dopamine Agents
Neurotransmitter Agents
Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
Adrenergic Antagonists
Adrenergic Agents
Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
Antidepressive Agents
Psychotropic Drugs processed this record on October 21, 2016