'Anti-alcoholism' drug clears key test hurdle

March 20, 2012

A drug designed to treat nervous spasms has cleared an important early test in a project to see whether it can also cure alcoholism, French doctors said on Tuesday.

Baclofen -- the lab name for a medication branded as Kemstro, Lioresal and Gablofen -- was successful in a preliminary test among a small group of alcoholics, a result that opens the way to formal clinical trials, they said.

The history of the drug goes back 50 years. It was originally designed for epilepsy before becoming licensed to treat spasticity, but researchers are now interested in using it to ease alcoholic craving.

Interest was sparked in 2008 by a book, Le Dernier Verre (The Last Glass), by cardiologist Olivier Ameisen, who self-treated his alcoholism with high doses of baclofen.

The entailed enrolling 132 who were given baclofen at high doses over a year.

Eighty percent either became abstinent or became . By comparison, two drugs that are commonly used to treat alcoholics, naltrexon and acamprosate, yield a success rate of 20-25 percent.

Side effects included fatigue, drowsiness, insomnia, dizziness and digestive troubles.

Lead researcher Philippe Jaury of the University of Paris-Descartes said the outcome opened the door to one-year clinical trials, expected to start in May, in which 320 alcoholics would be divided into two groups.

One batch will receive baclofen, progressively building in dosage until the craving symptoms subside, while the others will receive an inactive lookalike pill, or placebo.

France's health system is paying 750,000 euros ($469,000) of the 1.2-million-euro ($1.45-million) cost of the trial, and an unidentified donor is paying the rest, Jaury told AFP.

The pre-trial study is published in a specialist journal, and Alcoholism.

Explore further: New clinical trial to examine medication to treat social withdrawal in Fragile X and autism

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Young adults found displaying symptoms of net addiction

October 17, 2014

In 2012, Allen Frances, MD, professor emeritus and former chair of the department of psychiatry at Duke University, cautioned that "Internet Addiction" could be the next new fad diagnosis, complete with "an exuberant trumpeting ...

Can 'love hormone' oxytocin protect against addiction?

March 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Adelaide say addictive behaviour such as drug and alcohol abuse could be associated with poor development of the so-called "love hormone" system in our bodies during early ...

Nicotine vaccine prevents nicotine from reaching the brain

May 2, 2012

If smoking a cigarette no longer delivers pleasure, will smokers quit? It's the idea behind a nicotine vaccine being created by MIT and Harvard researchers, in which an injection of synthetic nanoparticles prompts the immune ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.