Indexed on: 01 Jan '07Published on: 01 Jan '07Published in: Indian journal of psychiatry
Alcohol dependence is a major problem in India. The pharmacological armamentarium for relapse prevention of alcohol has widened with the addition of new drugs. In this article, we review the pharmacology and efficacy of the four most important such drugs: disulfiram, naltrexone, acamprosate and topiramate. The first part of this two-part review series concerns the comparative pharmacology and the second part concerns the efficacy studies. Overall, all four of these drugs have modest but clinically significant usefulness as pharmacoprophylactic agents for relapse prevention or minimization of alcohol dependence. Combinations might be helpful, especially for naltrexone and acamprosate. The issue of supervision and compliance remains important, especially for such drugs as disulfiram and naltrexone. Topiramate is a promising new agent and requires further study. Disulfiram, while very effective in compliant patients, presents challenges in terms of patient selection and side effects. For patients with hepatic impairment, acamprosate is a good choice.