Lithium should not be used to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as motor neurone disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to an article published in The Lancet Neurology.
Recent pilot study results offered brief hope for patients with ALS but the first double-blind randomised trial of the drug has shown that lithium does not in fact slow down progression of the disease.
Researchers from both the Northeast and the Canadian ALS Consortiums designed a unique, placebo-controlled, time-to-event study. The result showed a decrease in ALS functional rating scale-revised (ALSFRS-R) score by at least six points or death. At the initial interim analysis a log-rank statistical test compared the distributions of the time to an event between the placebo and lithium groups.
According to the study authors: “Although a modest benefit of lithium was not ruled out by the study, we found no evidence that lithium in combination with riluzole slows progression of ALS more than riluzole alone. At this time, there remains no convincing evidence for the use of lithium as a treatment for patients with ALS.”