The aim of this study was to provide an update on medication development efforts for alcohol use disorder (AUD) by reviewing recently published (past 2 years) human studies that evaluated medications’ effects on alcohol-related outcomes.
Forty-five publications were found suitable for this review. A variety of compounds have been tested in the past 2 years as potential pharmacological options for AUD, including medications that act on multiple targets (topiramate, aripiprazole, quetiapine), calcium channels (gabapentin), gamma-Aminobutyric acid receptors (baclofen, diazepam), glutamate receptors (ifenprodil, memantine, glycine), nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (varenicline, mecamylamine), α1 adrenergic receptors (prazosin, doxazosin), neuroendocrine pathways (oxytocin, a vasopressin receptor 1b antagonist, a ghrelin receptor inverse agonist) and others (samidorphan, ibudilast, N-acetylcysteine, citoline). Important findings and limitations regarding the effects of these medications on alcohol-related outcomes are discussed.
There is a critical need to increase the armamentarium of medications for AUD. Human laboratory studies may help screen and prioritize promising targets and compounds before running large clinical trials. Given the complexity of AUD and the heterogeneity of afflicted patients, future studies should also investigate potential moderators and predictors of response to each pharmacological intervention.
aSection on Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology and Neuropsychopharmacology, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research and National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program, National Institutes of Health
bCenter on Compulsive Behaviors, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda
cMedication Development Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland
dCenter for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Correspondence to Mehdi Farokhnia, MD, 10 Center Drive (10CRC/15330), Room 1–5413, Bethesda, MD 20892-1108, USA. Tel: +1 301 435 9398; e-mail: email@example.com
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