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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2012 Oct;13(14):2015-26. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2012.721781. Epub 2012 Sep 4.

Current pharmacotherapy options for bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

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Lindner Center of HOPE, 4075 Old Western Row Road, Mason, OH 45040, USA.



Growing evidence indicates binge eating, defined as the consumption of an abnormally large amount of food accompanied by a sense of loss of control, is an important public health problem. Although psychotherapy may be effective, not all patients respond adequately.


This article provides an overview of bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge eating disorder (BED), the two conditions characterized by recurrent binge eating as a core feature, and reviews studies of specific medications in treating patients with BN or BED, focusing on randomized controlled trials (RCTs).


Although the evidence base is small, growing data indicate pharmacotherapy may be helpful for some patients with BN or BED. Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are modestly effective for reducing binge eating over the short term in BN and BED. SSRIs may be modestly effective in BN over the long term. Topiramate has consistently been shown to decrease binge eating in BED and BN, but side effects may limit its usefulness. Single RCTs suggest zonisamide and atomoxetine may be effective in BED. Combination therapy may be required for optimal outcomes. It is not yet known whether the binge eating of BN and BED respond similarly to pharmacotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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