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Release: Aug. 17, 2000

People with panic attacks invited to participate in UI study

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- People who have panic attacks are invited to participate in a University of Iowa Health Care study to test a new medication, pagoclone, for the condition. Panic attacks, also known as anxiety attacks, cause people to feel fear, dread or doom accompanied by physical sensations such as a rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, wobbly legs, hot flashes and "butterflies" in the stomach. These episodes typically last five or fewer minutes.

Participants must be age18 or older, in good medical health overall and experiencing recurrent panic attacks. Women must not be pregnant or planning to get pregnant during the study period. Participation includes nine visits to the UI over eight weeks. Blood draws for routine lab tests and EKGs will be performed at the first and last visits. Half of the participants will receive the test medication while the remaining participants will receive a placebo (sugar pill).

The goal of the study is to test the effectiveness of the medication for treating panic disorder, said Donald W. Black, M.D., UI professor of psychiatry and lead investigator of the study.

"Panic attacks are very common," Black said. "Nearly 15 percent of the population experiences panic attacks, and 3.5 percent have panic disorder."

He added that nearly two out of three people with the condition are women and that the common age of onset is 25 years.

"People with anxiety attacks are afraid to be in certain places and situations, such as shopping in stores, for fear of an attack," Black said. "Many people with the condition have depression or develop agoraphobia -- fear of public places -- and become housebound."

The study is sponsored by Pfizer, which manufactures pagoclone. For more information, call Black at (319) 353-4431.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.