Grassi MC, Cioce AM, Giudici FD, Antonilli L, Nencini P. Short-term efficacy of disulfiram or naltrexone in reducing positive urinalysis for both cocaine and cocaethylene in cocaine abusers: a pilot study. Pharmacol Res 55: 117-121
Cocaine abusers frequently report taking the drug in association with alcohol. This combined intake leads to the synthesis of cocaethylene, an active metabolite with effects similar to those of cocaine, but more prolonged. Since pharmacological effects of cocaethylene may partially account for the habit of cocaine abusers to take the drug in combination with ethanol, a main therapeutic goal in these patients should be making body fluids negative for cocaethylene. This randomized controlled open study conducted on 12 subjects co-abusers of cocaine and alcohol, evaluates the efficacy of a 12-week pharmacological treatment with Disulfiram (DIS) 400mg daily or Naltrexone (NTX) 50mg daily associated with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), as compared to CBT alone, in terms of: (i) stay in treatment; (ii) drug-free urinalyses for cocaine and cocaethylene; (iii) reduction of alcohol and cocaine craving. Data presented in this study are restricted to the first 4 weeks of treatment when all the enrolled subjects were still available for examination. In fact, of the 12 subjects enrolled in the study only 4 (33%) completed the 12-week treatment. Of these, three were in the CBT group and one in the NTX/CBT group. Results show that CBT treated subjects remained in treatment longer than those assigned to either DIS/CBT or NTX/CBT therapies. However, during the first 4 weeks of treatment, CBT-group urine tested positive almost always for both cocaine and cocaethylene. In contrast, both DIS/CBT and NTX/CBT treatments were associated to a statistically significant reduction, of positive urinalysis for both cocaine and cocaethylene, with respect to CBT alone. Moreover, across the first 4 weeks of treatment DIS/CBT and NTX/CBT treated subjects maintained lower scores at Visual Analogue Scales (VAS) for both cocaine and alcohol craving than subjects receiving CBT alone. This pilot study suggests that the transient efficacy of pharmacological treatments in maintaining subjects drug free, does not add to the capability of CBT to retain them in treatment.
"Six studies had three arms. Four of these compared disulfiram to naltrexone and to one other condition: to no disulfiram , to acamprosate , , or to GHB . The control arms in these studies were combined in order to calculate the overall efficacy and the following comparisons: blind versus open-label, supervision versus no supervision, and cocaine versus non cocaine. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite its success with compliant or supervised patients, disulfiram has been a controversial medication in the treatment of alcoholism. Often, study designs did not recognize a pivotal factor in disulfiram research, the importance of an open-label design. Our objectives are: (1) to analyze the efficacy and safety of disulfiram in RCTs in supporting abstinence and (2) to compare blind versus open-label studies, hypothesizing that blinded studies would show no difference between disulfiram and control groups because the threat would be evenly spread across all groups.
We searched PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Central Register for RCTs on disulfiram use with alcoholics in comparison to any alcoholic control group. The primary outcome was defined by the authors of each trial. Additional analyses included: blind vs. open-label, with or without supervision, cocaine study or not, and type of control. Overall, the 22 included studies showed a higher success rate of disulfiram compared to controls Hedges'g = .58 (95%CI = .35-.82). When comparing blind and open-label RCTs, only open-label trials showed a significant superiority over controls g = .70 (95%CI = .46-.93). RCTs with blind designs showed no efficacy of disulfiram compared to controls. Disulfiram was also more effective than the control condition when compared to naltrexone g = .77, 95%CI = .52-1.02, to acamprosate g = .76, 95%CI = .04-1.48, and to the no disulfiram groups g = .43, 95%CI = .17-.69. LIMITS INCLUDE: (1) a population of 89% male subjects and (2) a high but unavoidable heterogeneity of the studies with a substantial I-square in most subgroups of studies.
Blinded studies were incapable of distinguishing a difference between treatment groups and thus are incompatible with disulfiram research. Based on results with open-label studies, disulfiram is a safe and efficacious treatment compared to other abstinence supportive pharmacological treatments or to no disulfiram in supervised studies for problems of alcohol abuse or dependence.
PLoS ONE 02/2014; 9(2):e87366. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0087366 · 3.23 Impact Factor
"Results from randomized clinical trials assessing therapeutic efficacy of disulfiram for cocaine dependence also appear complex. For instance, studies have found that disulfiram treatment decreases (Carroll et al., 1993; Higgins et al., 1993; Carroll et al., 2000; George et al., 2000; Grassi et al., 2007) or produces no change (Pettinati et al., 2008) in cocaine use. Patients in the study by Pettinati et al. were also dependent on alcohol, and only 1/3 took >80% of their disulfiram doses, which likely contributed to the lack of efficacy for disulfiram in this study. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Much effort has been devoted to research focused on pharmacotherapies for cocaine dependence yet there are no FDA-approved medications for this brain disease. Preclinical models have been essential to defining the central and peripheral effects produced by cocaine. Recent evidence suggests that cocaine exerts its reinforcing effects by acting on multiple neurotransmitter systems within mesocorticolimibic circuitry. Imaging studies in cocaine-dependent individuals have identified deficiencies in dopaminergic signaling primarily localized to corticolimbic areas. In addition to dysregulated striatal dopamine, norepinephrine and glutamate are also altered in cocaine dependence. In this review, we present these brain abnormalities as therapeutic targets for the treatment of cocaine dependence. We then survey promising medications that exert their therapeutic effects by presumably ameliorating these brain deficiencies. Correcting neurochemical deficits in cocaine-dependent individuals improves memory and impulse control, and reduces drug craving that may decrease cocaine use. We hypothesize that using medications aimed at reversing known neurochemical imbalances is likely to be more productive than current approaches. This view is also consistent with treatment paradigms used in neuropsychiatry and general medicine.
"Several other randomized controlled trials showed the efficacy of DSF in treating cocaine dependence   with significantly better outcomes in men than those found in women . A recent meta-analysis  included seven studies of those reported in the literature, selected according to pre-established criteria. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cocaine dependence is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and high vulnerability to relapse. Overall, cocaine remains one of the most used illicit drugs in the world. Given the difficulty of achieving sustained recovery, pharmacotherapy of cocaine addiction remains one of the most important clinical challenges. Recent advances in neurobiology, brain imaging and clinical trials suggest that certain medications show promise in the treatment of cocaine addiction. The pharmacotherapeutic approaches for cocaine dependence include medications able to target specific subtypes of dopamine receptors, affect different neurotransmitter systems (i.e. noradrenergic, serotonergic, cholinergic, glutamatergic, GABAergic and opioidergic pathways), and modulate neurological processes. The systematic reviews concerning the pharmacological treatment of cocaine dependence appear to indicate controversial findings and inconclusive results. The aim of future studies should be to identify the effective medications matching the specific needs of patients with specific characteristics, abandoning the strategies extended to the entire population of cocaine dependent patients. In the present review we summarize the current pharmacotherapeutic approaches to the treatment of cocaine dependence with a focus on the new patents.
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