- Ibudilast, an anti-inflammatory drug for asthma shows promise in treating alcoholism.
- The efficacy of the drug was evaluated by measuring the participant’s response to stressful situations.
- The participants in the study showed an improvement in their mood after taking ibudilast drug.
An anti-inflammatory drug called ibudilast which is used in Japan for the treatment of asthma shows hope in the treatment of alcoholism, finds a new study from the University of California - Los Angeles.
The research study was published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
The research study was carried out on patients who were given either the drug with a dose of 20mg for two days or placebo (dummy pill with no active ingredient) drug for six days.
The research team found that the craving for alcohol was significantly lower among the participants who took ibudilast drug.
The participant's reactions were measured after allowing them to smell the glass of their preferred alcoholic drink but were not allowed to drink. Participants who took the ibudilast drug reported of being in a better mood when compared to those who took placebo.
The study was conducted on 17 men and seven women who took alcohol on an average of 21 days per month and who had seven alcoholic drinks whenever they drank.
During the sixth day of the study, participants were given an intravenous dose of alcohol (equivalent to four drinks) and to test how these medicines can interact with alcohol and whether it can be given when people are drinking.
Lara Ray, a UCLA professor of psychology, director of the UCLA Addictions Laboratory and the study author, said, "We found that ibudilast is safe and well-tolerated."
"This medication can be safely administered, including when people are drinking alcohol."
Side effects like nausea, abdominal pain are mild and none of the participants were dropped out of the study.
Evaluating the Efficacy of the Drug
The research team evaluated the drug's efficacy by looking on how well the patient was able to recover well from a stressful situation. The participants were asked about the different sources of stress in their life. During the fifth day, participants who were taking ibudilast drug and those who were taking placebo drug were asked about their stress situations.
The participants were found to improve mood much more quickly after hearing about their stressful situations. The treatment was found to improve the patients with depression. The drug was found to reduce the pleasurable effect of alcohol.
Ray, said, Chronic alcohol consumption elevates brain inflammation in animals, and earlier research showed that ibudilast was effective in reducing rats' alcohol consumption. But it wasn't a foregone conclusion that it would also be effective in humans.
She also said that many medications which are used in animals might show too many side effects in humans. However, ibudilast drug is found to be well-tolerated in humans.
The author also said, that testing the drugs used for treating alcoholism is critical because the United States Food and Drug Administration has approved only four treatments for alcoholism as they can be only modestly effective.
Further research on how ibudilast reduces brain inflammation is planned to be carried out, and the author also wants to test the drug on heavy drinkers who want to quit drinking.