Is Your Medication Working Overtime? (cont.)

Topamax, used to control epileptic seizures, may offer new treatment options for other conditions as well. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio found that alcoholics taking Topamax were able to reduce their daily alcohol intake and increase the number of alcohol-free days they had while attending an alcoholism treatment program. Topamax is thought to work by inhibiting the release of dopamine, stimulated by alcohol, in the brain's "reward" center, thus curbing alcohol cravings.

In another study, Topamax was unexpectedly found to improve scars, lessening discoloration and improving their cosmetic appearance. In August, the drug was also approved by the FDA for preventing migraine headaches in adults. A study published earlier this year in The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that patients who took Topamax had half as many migraine headaches a month as patients taking a placebo. Most migraine medications on the market are designed to relieve symptoms after a migraine appears.

One such medication used to treat the symptoms of migraine may also chill hot flashes. The drug, called Neurontin, is approved by the FDA to control epileptic seizures and is also used to treat bipolar disorder as well as some social phobia disorders. In the June 2000 issue of Neurology, Thomas J. Guttoso Jr., MD, studied the effect of Neurontin on a handful of patients and found that the drug "reduced the frequency of hot flashes by about 87%" in the six patients he studied.

Published Oct. 11, 2004.

SOURCES: Marc Siegel, MD, clinical associate professor, NYU School of Medicine. WebMD Feature from "Men's Health": "Threepenny Option." WebMD Medical News: "Antidepressants Cool Hot Flashes." WebMD Medical News: "Statins May Help Prevent Bone Fractures." WebMD Medical News: "Nearly All With Type 2 Diabetes Need Statins." WebMD Medical News: "Diabetes Pill Helps Early Alzheimer's Disease." WebMD Medical News: "Epilepsy Drug May Help Cure Alcoholics." WebMD Medical News: "FDA Approves Topamax for Preventing Migraines." WebMD Medical News: "Epilepsy Drug May Improve Appearance of Scars." WebMD Medical News: "Epilepsy Drug May 'Chill' Hot Flashes."

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Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005 8:48:23 AM