Infertility drug used to treat alcoholism

March 10, 2009


You do one story on infertility and lo another turns up right after it – but from a different angle. It’s not uncommon for a newly developed drug for one condition to have other applications, and in this case a common drug prescribed for male and female infertility and menstrual disorders could hold the key to a more effective treatment for alcoholism. This is not a small problem either, currently around 1 in 12 of the population are believed to have problems with alcohol dependence or abuse.

This new research was carried out at MLA University of California in San Francisco on Cabergoline, which is marketed under the trade name Dostinex. It is prescribed to treat conditions caused by excess of the hormone prolactin but when tested in a laboratory trial on rats it apparently decreased their alcohol consumption. Didn’t know rats had a drink problem, but it was reported in the Biological Psychiatry journal and they seem quite excited about it.

The drug didn’t make the rats seek out more sugar or water but was specific on reducing their alcohol consumption. The scientists are excited because the current drugs used for treating alcoholism have a side effect that decreases the pleasure of drinking and so people are more reluctant to stick with the regime. Relapse is another major issue in alcohol treatment programmes and another benefit of cabergoline is that is was shown to be effective in reducing the alcohol craving and the rate of relapse. It has also been tested in a pilot study on cocaine addicts, and the results are encouraging as there seemed to be a reduction in the drug’s use.


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