Navigation Links
Epilepsy Drug Holds Promise as Treatment for Alcoholism

Topiramate reduced heavy drinking and helped to boost abstinence, study finds

TUESDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- An drug used to treat epileptic seizures could be added to the short list of medications prescribed to help alcoholics control their addiction, a new study suggests.

The drug topiramate proved measurably better than a placebo at helping alcoholics stay away from heavy drinking, the study authors said.

"Not only is there an effective new treatment, but there's a medication that you can take at the time of crisis. You can start immediately when you need help," said study author Dr. Bankole Johnson, chairman of the University of Virginia's Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences.

For many alcoholics, treatment is no different than it was 50 or 60 years ago: They must rely on their own willpower, often with the help of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. But some -- about 3 percent to 4 percent, Johnson estimates -- try to quit drinking with the help of prescription medications.

In the new study, conducted between 2004 and 2006, Johnson and his colleagues recruited 371 alcoholics between the ages of 18 and 65. The subjects, both male and female, received daily doses of topiramate -- up to 300 milligrams -- or a placebo along with a brief weekly visit with a counselor.

Both treatments seemed to help patients. Over 14 weeks, the percentage of heavy-drinking days per week dropped from 81.9 percent to 43.8 percent among those who took topiramate and from 82 percent to 51.8 percent among those who took a placebo.

Topiramate also led to a higher rate of achieving 28 or more days of continuous non-heavy drinking and 28 or more days of continuous abstinence, the researchers said.

The drug appears to work by cutting the craving for alcohol, according to Johnson.

The findings are published in the Oct. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There are side effects with topiramate, Johnson said. The drug "can make you dizzy, give you headaches and the feeling of pins and needles in your fingers. Some people have difficulty naming words, which goes away after about a week."

The drug isn't cheap -- it costs about $1,000 for three months, according to Johnson. And, patients don't see benefits for two to four weeks. Still, topiramate holds promise, he said.

"We're talking about a drug that will be many times better than what is currently available," he said. "And it doesn't require you to go to rehab."

Dr. J.C. Garbutt, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the new research on topiramate will give doctors another option when they treat alcoholism. Since the drug is already approved for use, doctors can prescribe it immediately.

Garbutt said it's still difficult for doctors to figure out which medication to prescribe to alcoholics. But "this gives you another one you can work with," he said.

Meanwhile, Johnson said, the next step is to study whether people can safely take topiramate for long periods of time.

Meanwhile, the group Public Citizen on Tuesday sent a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach claiming that a questionnaire that accompanied a press kit on the study violated FDA regulations that prohibit the promotion of the off-label use of a medication. Ortho-McNeil Janssen makes topiramate and funded the study.

More information

For more on alcoholism and treatment, visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

SOURCES: Bankole Johnson, M.D., Ph.D., chairman, Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville; J.C. Garbutt, M.D., professor of psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Oct. 10, 2007, Journal of the American Medical Association

Copyright©2007 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. General Anesthesia Safe For Children On Ketogenic Diet Suffering From Epilepsy
2. Researchers Scale to assess the Severity of Epilepsy in Kids
3. Inadequate epilepsy treatment
4. Music in link with epilepsy
5. Caffeine can induce epilepsy in newborns
6. Epilepsy can be predicted
7. Epilepsy Drugs Can Enhance Risk of Birth Defects
8. Lamictal as add-on therapy for children with epilepsy
9. Epilepsy Drug Helps Diabetic Nerve Damage
10. Study to look at early surgery to treat epilepsy
11. Epilepsy Drug May Relieve Chronic Headaches
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. Omkar Marathe earned his Bachelors ... Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in Internal Medicine at Scripps Green ... hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he had the opportunity to train ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, Secretary of the Maryland Department of ... recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health promotion. , The Wellness at Work ... Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. iHire was one of 42 businesses ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... A ... procedures that most people are unfamiliar with. The article goes on to state that ... but also many of these less common operations such as calf and cheek reduction. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, ... the dangers associated with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity ... who are suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... and Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two significant new grants ... grants came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016  Collagen Matrix, Inc., ("Collagen ... and manufacturing of collagen and mineral based medical ... that Bill Messer has joined the ... further leverage the growing portfolio of oral surgery, ... Bill joins the Collagen Matrix executive team ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 Research and ... "Structural Electronics 2015-2025: Applications, Technologies, Forecasts" report ... In-Mold Electronics, Smart Skin, Structural Health Monitoring, ... Structural electronics involves electronic and/or electrical components ... replacing dumb structures such as vehicle bodies or ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 Research and Markets has ... Companion Diagnostic Tests" report to their offering. ... Diagnostics The World Market for Companion Diagnostics ... diagnostics. Market analysis in the report includes the following: ... Vitro Diagnostic Kits) by Region (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: