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Topiramate may treat alcoholism

19 May, 2003

A study, published in The Lancet, has found that the anti-epileptic drug topiramate may be an effective treatment for alcohol addiction.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio randomly allocated 150 heavy drinkers (defined as 5 alcoholic drinks per day for men, four for women) to receive either topiramate or placebo for three months in addition to standard behaviour therapy.

People in the group receiving topiramate were drinking around three fewer drinks per day than those in the placebo group after three months follow-up. Topiramate therapy resulted in around a quarter fewer heavy drinking days and a quarter more abstinence days compared with those given placebo.

Lead author Dr Bankole Johnson commented:

"Topiramate is a new weapon in our armamentarium for treating alcohol dependence. This proof-of-concept study opens up a new area of pharmacological discovery of effective treatments for alcohol dependence. As such, our knowledge on the basic science underpinnings of alcoholism is improved, and this should bring about hope for the identification of even more efficacious medications in the future."