Researcher warns banned 'fountain of youth drug' may be making a comeback

July 3, 2013, Boston University Medical Center

Despite it being more than 30 years since the "fountain of youth drug" Gerovital H3 was banned in the United States, it may be making a comeback. In an editorial published in this month's Journal of the American Geriatrics Society BUSM researcher Thomas Perls, MD, points out that a few U.S.-based anti-aging and longevity clinics have begun to advertise Gerovital H3 in pill form and as intravenous infusions despite the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned it in 1982.

Gerovital H3 is the dental anesthetic procaine hydrochloride (novocaine), yet in the 1950s, this drug was abused among Hollywood stars. According to Perls governmental bodies such as the FDA are relied upon to protect their citizens from drugs that do not do what they are claimed to do or are unsafe, yet in communist Romania, the opposite occurred with the state-sponsored marketing of Gerovital H3. In 1956, a paper titled "A new method for prophylaxis and treatment of aging with Novocain-eutrophic and rejuvenating effects" was published in the now discontinued journal Therapiewoche by Ana Aslan, director of the Geriatrics Institute of Bucharest. As a result the communist regime established an anti-aging resort and clinic for foreigners.

Perls explains that by the 1970s, the National Institute on Aging commissioned a thorough evaluation of the studies and claims surrounding Gerovital H3. "The conclusion of that work was that, except for a possible mild (MAO) inhibitor effect that would potentially ameliorate depression, there was no scientifically credible evidence supporting the claims that procaine hydrochloride is beneficial in treating age-related diseases or syndromes," said Perls, professor medicine at BUSM and director of the New England Centenarian and Supercentenarian Studies at Boston Medical Center. Perls points out that a plausible explanation for why some subjects might have experienced some improvements in health was that, in addition to receiving Gerovital H3, they were receiving other interventions such as exercise, stress reduction and healthy nutrition. "Thus, a glaring problem for the demonstration of any benefit associated with Gerovital H3 or similar compounds is the absence of any double-blind, placebo controlled trials demonstrating a significant improvement in the outcomes that anti-aging doctors and entrepreneurs claimed," he added.

Additional studies were later performed to further investigate a possible MAO inhibitory effect from procaine hydrochloride and any subsequent neurocognitive benefit but there was no evidence that procaine and its preparations could treat or preventing cognitive impairment or dementia.

"Gerovital H3 appears to have experienced a recent rebound in marketing and sales in the United States, primarily because of Internet-based marketing. A search for "Gerovital H3" on Google or Yahoo! results in more than 300,000 hits. Inquiring patients and the public need to be informed about the approved and unapproved uses of procaine hydrochloride and aware that there is no scientific evidence supporting any systemic health benefits or "anti-aging" effects of the drug," said Perls.

Explore further: Mechanism of mutant histone protein in childhood brain cancer revealed

Related Stories

Mechanism of mutant histone protein in childhood brain cancer revealed

April 1, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Most cancer treatments are blunt. In an attempt to eradicate tumors, oncologists often turn to radiation or chemotherapy, which can damage healthy tissue along with the cancerous growths. New research from ...

New advances in the understanding of cancer progression

April 12, 2012
Researchers at the Hospital de Mar Research Institute (IMIM) have discovered that the protein LOXL2 has a function within the cell nucleus thus far unknown. They have also described a new chemical reaction of this protein ...

Recommended for you

In most surgery patients, length of opioid prescription, number of refills spell highest risk for misuse

January 17, 2018
The possible link between physicians' opioid prescription patterns and subsequent abuse has occupied the attention of a nation in the throes of an opioid crisis looking for ways to stem what experts have dubbed an epidemic. ...

Patients receive most opioids at the doctor's office, not the ER

January 16, 2018
Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main ...

FDA bans use of opioid-containing cough meds by kids

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Trying to put a dent in the ongoing opioid addiction crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday slapped strict new restrictions on the use of opioid-containing cold and cough products by kids.

Taking ibuprofen for long periods found to alter human testicular physiology

January 9, 2018
A team of researchers from Denmark and France has found that taking regular doses of the pain reliever ibuprofen over a long period of time can lead to a disorder in men called compensated hypogonadism. In their paper published ...

Nearly one-third of Canadians have used opioids: study

January 9, 2018
Nearly one in three Canadians (29 percent) have used "some form of opioids" in the past five years, according to data released Tuesday as widespread fentanyl overdoses continue to kill.

Growing opioid epidemic forcing more children into foster care

January 8, 2018
The opioid epidemic has become so severe it's considered a national public health emergency. Addiction to prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine, has contributed to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.