U.S. researchers have identified a drug used to treat a common skin disease that may have effects against alcohol use disorders. The new study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation provides preclinical and clinical evidence that the use of the drug apremilast, used for psoriasis, can reduce alcohol consumption.
The results of the study show that people who were prescribed the pill saw their alcohol consumption decrease by more than half on average.
The team of researchers from Oregon Health and Science University, the University of Texas at Austin, the Medical University of South Carolina, Temple University in Philadelphia and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, first tested the treatment on classes of animals that were genetically predisposed to binge-drinking and found that apremilast increased neuronal activity in the nucleus accumbens of the brain, the target brain area for regulating alcohol consumption. The scientists then conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in humans.
Over the course of the eleven-day treatment, apremilast, dosed at 90 ml/l, reduced the consumption of people who had an alcohol-related disorder and were not seeking treatment for the addiction. It is possible that this drug is even more effective for people who really want to reduce their alcohol consumption.
One of the study’s co-authors, Barbara Manson, a professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, says the magnitude of apremilast’s effect on reducing alcohol consumption, combined with the drug’s good tolerability in participants, suggests that it is an excellent candidate for further evaluation as a new treatment for people with alcohol use disorders.
The main advantage of this drug, if used for alcohol use, is that it is already approved for psoriasis by the Food and Drug Administration, has few adverse effects and has a very good safety profile.