Aug. 10, 2023 – The research study into the drug was then fully terminated in May 2023 – just weeks before the federal order to shut down all human trials on June 12. 

According to, the individual who died by suicide was assigned to the placebo arm of the study – meaning that they weren’t actually receiving the drug. 

Their identity has not been confirmed, nor did the New York State Psychiatric Institute confirm specifically that the patient died during the trial. 

It was also not confirmed if the patient who died was previously taking antidepressants.  

Dr Rutherford’s levodopa trial for late-life depression attempted to recruit 90 adults over the age of 60 who suffered from mild to moderate depression.

In the end, the study was able to recruit 51 patients – but 20 of those dropped out or were found ineligible. The remaining 31 were either given levodopa, or a placebo. 

However issues became apparent after it was reported that some of the human subjects had only just finished taking their antidepressants days earlier – which goes against the study’s protocol. 

As well as this, stopping antidepressant consumption is linked to an increased risk of suicide. 

Emily Roberts, a former research assistant in Dr. Rutherford’s laboratory, told Spectrum that recruiting was challenging – and in a bid to get enough people on it, some criteria was ‘relaxed.’