Levetiracetam in the Treatment of Alcohol Dependence: Toward the End of the Story?


  • Yann Le Strat

    Corresponding author
    1. INSERM U894, Team 1, Centre for Psychiatry and Neurosciences, Paris, France
    2. Faculty of Medicine, University Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France
    • Department of Psychiatry, Louis Mourier Hospital, AP-HP, Colombes, France
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Reprint requests: Dr. Yann Le Strat, Department of Psychiatry, Louis Mourier Hospital, 178, rue des Renouillers, 92700 Colombes, France; Tel.: (33) (0)1 47 60 68 76; Fax: (33) (0)1 47 60 67 40; E-mail: yann.lestrat@inserm.fr



Levetiracetam exhibited 2 promising results in preclinical studies as well as in treating alcohol withdrawal in humans. Two open-label trials suggested that levetiracetam may be efficient in alcohol-related disorder.


The study by Fertig and colleagues (2012) examines the effects of levetiracetam using a double-blind, placebo-controlled design including 130 participants. Fertig and colleagues' study included alcohol-dependent participants drinking heavily. Double-blind medication was dispensed for 16 weeks, with a target dose of 2,000 mg per day from week 5 to week 14, and then tapered.


The results are negative both on the primary and on the secondary outcomes, except from lower alcohol-related consequences in the levetiracetam extended-release (XR) group, and a trend for a lower quality of life in the levetiracetam XR group. These last 2 results would have been nonsignificant after controlling for multiple testing.


By conducting a state-of-the-art randomized-controlled clinical trial with negative results, Fertig and colleagues have filled an important gap in the existing literature.