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J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2008 Jun;28(3):317-24. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0b013e318172b8bc.

Cannabinoid receptor 1 blocker rimonabant (SR 141716) for treatment of alcohol dependence: results from a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Abstract

Multiple lines of evidence suggest that the endocannabinoid system is implicated in the development of alcohol dependence. In addition, in animal models, the cannabinoid receptor 1 blocker rimonabant was found to decrease alcohol consumption, possibly by indirect modulation of dopaminergic neurotransmission. This was a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled, proof-of-concept study to assess the possible efficacy of the cannabinoid receptor 1 antagonist rimonabant 20 mg/d (2 x 10 mg) in the prevention of relapse to alcohol in recently detoxified alcohol-dependent patients. A total of 260 patients were included, 258 were exposed to medication, and 208 (80.6%) were men. Patients had an alcohol history of 15 years on average. More patients in the rimonabant group (94/131 [71.8%]) completed treatment compared with the placebo group (79/127 [62.2%]). Although there was a modest effect of rimonabant with respect to relapse rate, there were no statistically significant differences between treatment groups. Approximately 41.5% of the rimonabant group had relapsed to drinking at the end of the study compared with 47.7% of the placebo group (obtained from Kaplan-Meier-curve). Differences were more marked but not statistically significant in patients who relapsed to heavy drinking: 27.7% versus 35.6%, respectively. Safety and tolerance of the drug were good. Similar rates of adverse events were reported between the 2 groups; less patients experienced serious events or discontinued the treatment with rimonabant compared with placebo. Rates of depression-related events were low (3.8% with rimonabant compared with 1.6% with placebo). Patients on rimonabant lost weight (Mean, -1.7 kg) compared with baseline, whereas there was no such change in the placebo group. Weight loss was more pronounced in patients with a higher body mass index. In addition, there was a significant decrease in leptin levels in the rimonabant group compared with baseline. Lack of efficacy in this study may be explained by a very high response rate in the placebo group and a relatively short treatment duration. Taking the substantial numbers of animal studies suggesting a possible role of CB1 antagonists for the treatment of alcohol dependence into account, it seems worthwhile to further test cannabinoid blockers in the treatment of alcoholism.

PMID:
18480689
DOI:
10.1097/JCP.0b013e318172b8bc
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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