Background: Antiepileptics have been shown to reduce alcohol intake or to prevent relapse in patients with alcoholism.
Goal: To investigate if the new antiepileptic levetiracetam (LEV) prevents relapse after detoxification compared with placebo in patients with alcohol dependence.
Methods: Two hundred one patients were included in the prospective, randomized, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled trial. After detoxification treatment and a screening period of 7 days, patients were randomized to treatment with LEV or placebo. Medication was administered in a fixed-dose schedule for 16 weeks. Primary outcome parameters were the overall rate and time to relapse with heavy drinking. Secondary outcome parameters were time to the first drink, craving, adherence, tolerability, and safety data (mean corpuscular volume, serum alanine aminotransferase, serum aspartate aminotransferase, γ-glutamyltransferase).
Results: The rate of relapse and the time to relapse did not differ significantly between both groups, but less patients treated with LEV terminated treatment early compared with patients receiving placebo. Tolerability and safety data were similar in the LEV group compared with placebo.
Conclusions: Our data do not support a significant effect of LEV on relapse prevention in patients with alcohol dependence during the first 16 weeks of abstinence.