DC company developing new treatment for motion sickness

There hasn’t been a new treatment for motion sickness approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 40 years, but D.C.-based Vanda Pharmaceuticals is advancing development of one that may eventually be the next effective treatment for the common ailment.

Vanda reports positive results from Phase 3 clinical trials for its treatment-using participants with a history of motion sickness. The trials were conducted in real-world settings on boat trips under various sea conditions. They included 365 participants and 34 boat trips that took place between November 2021 and April 2023 in coastal waters off the U.S.

Participants received either one of two doses of the drug, or a placebo. Of those on the highest dose, 18.3% suffered vomiting, the most common symptom of motion sickness, compared to 19.5% of participants on the smaller dose, and 44.3% of participants who received the placebo.

Vanda will continue the motion sickness clinical program and pursue FDA approval upon completion of additional efficacy and safety studies.

As many as 30% of the general population suffers from motion sickness in ordinary travel conditions that include sea, air and land travel. Approximately 2 to 3 million doses of Dramamine are purchased monthly in the U.S.

The last approved treatment for motion sickness was scopolamine, sold under the brand names Maldemar and Scopace, a patch placed behind the ear, in 1979.

Motion sickness has plagued travelers for thousands of years. As the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates wrote, “sailing the sea proves motion disorders the body.”


Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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