Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Galanthamine Cuts Alcohol Intake, Not Relapses. (Reduced Cravings in Dependent Patients)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Galanthamine Cuts Alcohol Intake, Not Relapses. (Reduced Cravings in Dependent Patients)

Article excerpt

MADRID -- Although transdermal administration of galanthamine did not reduce relapse in alcohol-dependent patients, the drug was associated with a reduction in total alcohol consumption and craving, Dr. Michael Smolka said at the World Psychiatric Association International Congress 2001.

Further studies may be indicated to investigate whether the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor might help those patients who either cannot or will not stay abstinent maintain some control over their drinking, said Dr. Smolka of Freie Universitat, Berlin.

Two small earlier studies have suggested that galanthamine, a reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, might be useful for alcohol dependence.

The current trial enrolled 149 patients in seven centers in Germany. The patients were randomized to receive a transdermal patch--a novel approach in alcohol treatment research--that released 11 mg/day of the drug or contained a placebo. The patients had been abstinent for 325 days at the start of the trial and had expressed a serious interest in maintaining abstinence.

Treatment was maintained for 12 weeks, and patients were followed for an additional 12 weeks. There were few side effects, beyond skin reactions, in about half of patients in both groups, Dr. Smolka said.

In the primary outcome measure, which was the time to relapse, galanthamine was significantly inferior to placebo: 39 days with the drug, compared with 63 days for placebo. Overall, 86% of patients in the galanthamine group relapsed to at least one incident of heavy (blood alcohol concentration over 1 mg/mL) or prolonged drinking (5 consecutive days); in the placebo group, the relapse rate was 67%, he said. …

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