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Hum Exp Toxicol. 1991 Jul;10(4):235-9.

Efficacy of flumazenil in acute alcohol intoxication: double blind placebo-controlled evaluation.

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Emergency Department (Clinical Toxicology) Erasme University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium.


Flumazenil acts as an antidote for pharmacological and toxic effects due to benzodiazepines. Several isolated observations and short uncontrolled series have also suggested a possible effect against the impairment of consciousness induced by pure alcohol intoxication. Patients admitted in the emergency department with coma related to acute alcohol (ALC) or pure benzodiazepine (BZD) intoxication were randomized and treated blindly with either placebo or 1 mg flumazenil. A modified Glasgow score was used to observe the evolution of consciousness. In the 18 ALC patients, 1 mg flumazenil was not more effective than placebo, whereas it appeared to be very active in the BZD group. However, an open administration of higher doses of flumazenil (2-5 mg) in 11 ALC patients, whose condition had not initially improved, was followed by clear improvement of consciousness in five of them. Flumazenil, administered at a dose usually active against BZD sedation, does not improve CNS depression induced by ALC intoxication. Higher doses could be more effective in some patients, but it should also be verified in a placebo-controlled trial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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