Switching from long-term benzodiazepine therapy to pregabalin in patients with generalized anxiety disorder: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Author(s): Hadley SJ, Mandel FS, Schweizer E
Affiliation(s): Pfizer Inc., New York, NY, USA.
Publication date & source: 2011-06-21, J Psychopharmacol., [Epub ahead of print]
To evaluate the efficacy of pregabalin in facilitating taper off chronic benzodiazepines, outpatients (N = 106) with a lifetime diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (current diagnosis could be subthreshold) who had been treated with a benzodiazepine for 8-52 weeks were stabilized for 2-4 weeks on alprazolam in the range of 1-4 mg/day. Patients were then randomized to 12 weeks of double-blind treatment with either pregabalin 300-600 mg/day or placebo while undergoing a gradual benzodiazepine taper at a rate of 25% per week, followed by a 6-week benzodiazepine-free phase during which they continued double-blind study treatment. Outcome measures included ability to remain benzodiazepine-free (primary) as well as changes in Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM)-A and Physician Withdrawal Checklist (PWC). At endpoint, a non-significant higher proportion of patients remained benzodiazepine-free receiving pregabalin compared with placebo (51.4% vs 37.0%). Treatment with pregabalin was associated with significantly greater endpoint reduction in the HAM-A total score versus placebo (-2.5 vs +1.3; p < 0.001), and lower endpoint mean PWC scores (6.5 vs 10.3; p = 0.012). Thirty patients (53%) in the pregabalin group and 19 patients (37%) in the placebo group completed the study, reducing the power to detect a significant difference on the primary outcome. The results on the anxiety and withdrawal severity measures suggest that switching to pregabalin may be a safe and effective method for discontinuing long-term benzodiazepine therapy.