December 24, 2007 / 4:09 PM / 12 years ago

Anti-alcohol drug promising for binge eaters

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The results of a small study suggest that the muscle-relaxing drug baclofen may help curb binge eating episodes in women with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

“This is the first study, to our knowledge, that studies baclofen’s use in binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa in a systematic manner,” Dr. Allegra I. Broft, from Columbia University in New York, who led the study, told Reuters Health.

Baclofen has been shown to safely and effectively keep alcoholics away from alcohol.

“We became interested in baclofen,” Broft explained, “because of its potential role in treating substance use disorders; thus, we chose it from a theoretical viewpoint that suggests that binge eating disorders and substance use disorders may have some common underlying roots, and that a medicine that helps one might help the other.”

The study, which is reported in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, involved four women with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder (a.k.a., BED) and three women with bulimia who were treated with baclofen at a dose of 60 milligrams per day. Six of the women completed the 10-week trial.

Three women with BED and two with bulimia experienced a 50 percent or greater drop off in binge eating frequency during the course of the study. Moreover, two BED patients and one bulimia patient were completely free of binge eating at week 10.

Baclofen was well tolerated by the women in the study and four of the women elected to continue the drug after the study ended.

“Baclofen,” Broft said, “may be of utility for treatment of conditions like BED and bulimia nervosa, though a larger, more definitive trial is needed at this point.”

SOURCE: International Journal of Eating Disorders, December 2007.

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