(SKY NEWS) – A drug normally used to treat prostate cancer could dramatically reduce the risk of paedophiles abusing children, according to a new study.
Swedish scientists say the drug, degarelix, dramatically lowers levels of testosterone, reducing paedophiles’ sex drive and their sexual attraction to children. The effect was seen in just two weeks.
The researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm say the criminal justice system has failed to slow the rise in child sex abuse – particularly offences committed online. But medicine could prove effective.
A total of 52 men volunteered for the study.
Results published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry show the risk score for committing an offence fell by 40% in those given injections of the drug, compared to just 15% in those who had placebo jabs.
Dr Christoffer Rahm, the study leader and a clinical neuroscientist at the institute, said: “This is an important step towards an evidence-based treatment.
“It is important to be able to offer a relatively fast-acting treatment and patients’ own experiences of the drug were overall positive.”
Sky News was given exclusive access to the study in 2016.
One young participant, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, said at the time: “We didn’t choose to be this way. Nobody would, obviously. And yet nobody accepts us, everybody hates us, we can’t be open with it.
“Hopefully [the drug] will take my mind off these things so I don’t have to be so frustrated and miserable.”
None of the men in the study had sexually abused children. They were referred through a national helpline called Preventell, which fast tracks people with dangerous or ‘unwanted’ sexuality into treatment.
Past attempts at chemical castration have been anecdotal and inconclusive.
But degarelix is a newer drug that has an immediate testosterone-lowering effect.
The researchers will study the long-term effects of the drug and compare them with psychotherapy.