In what is seen as a landmark achievement, scientists at the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) have developed a new drug to control and cure depression - a growing problem afflicting many across the country.
"The new drug has been found to be safer that the existing anti-depression drugs. It is also free of side effects," a senior CDRI scientist at the Clinical Division said.
Elaborating on the drug, he said, "The drug named 'sent propezene' has much faster action than the existing drugs, which begin to show results only after two or three weeks of use."
It has been tried and tested on more than 250 patients, who were stated to have shown "remarkable results".
CDRI has obtained an international patent for the drug, which would hit the markets in the near future. "Clearance from the drug controller will be sought only after two more rounds of human trials," the scientist said declining to be named.
Nearly 16 per cent of the world's population is affected by depression, with most in the 20-25 age group, according to a CDRI study.
Ever since the 1960s, when the first anti-depressant drug was invented, several alternatives had been developed. "Yet, each of these had their own limitations and none could be used for a permanent treatment of the disease."
He listed increased heart rate, dizziness, blurred vision as among the side-effects of some of the drugs commonly in use. There were yet other drugs relatively safer, but they often led to insomnia, restlessness and loss of appetite.
"But what is even worse is that most of these drugs are addictive, and patients invariably get dependant on them lifelong," he said.
The new drug is a major landmark achievement and is expected to go a long way in helping people overcome symptoms of depression, he added.