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Efficacy and Safety of Levetiracetam for the Prevention of Alcohol Relapse in Recently Detoxified Alcohol-Dependent Patients: A Randomized Trial

Richter, Christoph MD*†; Effenberger, Susanne*‡; Bschor, Tom MD§; Bonnet, Udo MD; Haasen, Christian MD; Preuss, Ulrich W. MD#; Heinz, Andreas MD*; Förg, Anna,*; Volkmar, Katharina*; Glauner, Till MD; Schaefer, Martin MD***

Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology: August 2012 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 558–562
doi: 10.1097/JCP.0b013e31825e213e
Brief Reports

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.

From the *Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charité Campus Mitte; †Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Gerontopsychiatry/Psychosomatic, Vivantes GmbH, Wenckebach-Hospital; ‡Department of Oncology, Hematology and Transfusion Medicine, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Charité-Universitätsmedizin; §Schlosspark Clinic, Berlin; ∥Klinik für abhängiges Verhalten und Suchtmedizin, Rheinische Kliniken Essen, Kliniken der Universität Duisburg-Essen, Essen; ¶Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg; #Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Universitätsklinikum, Halle; and **Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Addiction Medicine, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Essen, Germany.

Received June 29, 2011; accepted after revision May 7, 2012.

Reprints: Martin Schaefer, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Addiction Medicine, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Henricistr. 92, D-45136 Essen, Germany (e-mail:

This trial was registered to EMEA with the EudraCT-number 2006-003999-35 and to with the number NCT00758277.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.