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Weight loss drug helps curb cocaine addictions, Penn study finds
Date:7/18/2013

ry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and medical director at the Charles O'Brien Center for Addiction Treatment. "Based on the study's results, this drug, plus cognitive behavioral therapy, may be a good option for people addicted to both alcohol and cocaine to help reduce their cocaine use."

Topiramate is an anticonvulsant drug that increases the brain levels of GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid, which is a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It is FDA approved for the treatment of epilepsy, migraines and more recently for weight loss in combination with phentermine.

For drug and alcohol addiction, it is thought that the increase of GABA may reduce the dopamine release associated with cocaine and alcohol use and thus reduce the reinforcing euphoric effects of the two. A small pilot study in 2005 by Dr. Kampman and colleagues found that topiramate helped cocaine addicts stay off the drug for three weeks or more.

Given prior studies, it's puzzling that topiramate did not reduce alcohol dependence, but could be explained by the severity of the group's addiction to it, the authors write. The percent days of heavy drinking for participants in this trial were much lower than past studies (12 percent vs 48 percent in some cases). Topiramate may have a greater effect in those who drink more heavily.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial included addicts whose average age was 45 and were mainly African American males who smoked crack cocaine. There was no significant difference, with respect to demographics, drug and alcohol use and amount of money spent on substances, between the two groups. Drug and alcohol tests were performed three times a week.

During the last three weeks of the trial, 20 percent of users on topiramate abstained from cocaine, compared to just 7 percent on the placebo. H
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Contact: Steve Graff
stephen.graff@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5653
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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