First effective medication for cocaine addiction?

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New research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine reveals that topiramate, a drug used to treat epilepsy, migraines and binge eating disorders, could also be the first effective medication for cocaine addiction.

The study, which was published in JAMA Psychiatry, is one of the first to find a pharmacological treatment for cocaine dependence. There are currently no FDA-approved drugs for the addiction.

Details of the study

Researchers enrolled 142 adult participants who were seeking help for cocaine addiction. The subjects were assigned either topiramate or a placebo, and neither the participants nor the medical professionals who administered the treatment knew who was in each group.

Participants in the topiramate group were found to use cocaine fewer days each week than the placebo group, and the drug also appeared to increase the likelihood that participants could have entire cocaine-free weeks. Subjects taking topiramate also reported reduced cravings for cocaine.

Side effects were seen in the topiramate group, however, which included skin tingling, taste distortion, anorexia and difficulty concentrating.

'Robust therapeutic effect'

Despite the side effects, researchers said that topiramate showed a "robust therapeutic effect" on participants, and it may hold promise for the 19.7 million cocaine users across the globe who have a high chance of becoming addicted.

"Our findings reveal that topiramate is a safe and robustly efficacious medicine for the treatment of cocaine dependence, and has the potential to make a major contribution to the global health crisis of addiction," said Bankole A. Johnson, lead study author and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Source: University of Maryland

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