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

July 03, 2013

(Boston)--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 monoamine oxidase (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.
-end-


Boston University Medical Center

Related Aging Articles from Brightsurf:

Surprises in 'active' aging
Aging is a process that affects not only living beings.

Aging-US: 'From Causes of Aging to Death from COVID-19' by Mikhail V. Blagosklonny
Aging-US recently published ''From Causes of Aging to Death from COVID-19'' by Blagosklonny et al. which reported that COVID-19 is not deadly early in life, but mortality increases exponentially with age - which is the strongest predictor of mortality.

Understanding the effect of aging on the genome
EPFL scientists have measured the molecular footprint that aging leaves on various mouse and human tissues.

Muscle aging: Stronger for longer
With life expectancy increasing, age-related diseases are also on the rise, including sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass due to aging.

Aging memories may not be 'worse, 'just 'different'
A study from the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences adds nuance to the idea that an aging memory is a poor one and finds a potential correlation between the way people process the boundaries of events and episodic memory.

A new biomarker for the aging brain
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR) in Japan have identified changes in the aging brain related to blood circulation.

Scientists invented an aging vaccine
A new way to prevent autoimmune diseases associated with aging like atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease was described in the article.

The first roadmap for ovarian aging
Infertility likely stems from age-related decline of the ovaries, but the molecular mechanisms that lead to this decline have been unclear.

Researchers discover new cause of cell aging
New research from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering could be key to our understanding of how the aging process works.

Deep Aging Clocks: The emergence of AI-based biomarkers of aging and longevity
The advent of deep biomarkers of aging, longevity and mortality presents a range of non-obvious applications.

Read More: Aging News and Aging Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.