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A Double-Blind Evaluation of the Safety and Efficacy of Abecarnil, Alprazolam, and Placebo in Outpatients With Generalized Anxiety Disorder

R. Bruce Lydiard, Ph.D., M.D., James C. Ballenger, M.D., and Karl Rickels, M.D., for the Abecarnil Work Group

Published: March 1, 1997

Article Abstract

In a placebo-controlled, multicenter study, 180 male and female outpatients, ages 18-65, withDSM-III-R generalized anxiety disorder, were treated with abecarnil (a partial benzodiazepine agonist),alprazolam, or placebo for 4 weeks. This was followed by a rapid (1-week) taper, during whichpatients were assessed for any taper-related symptoms. All patients were identified via a structuredclinical interview for DSM-III-R and randomly assigned to one of the three treatment groups. Morethan 70% of each treatment group completed the study. In the acute-treatment phase, both abecarniland alprazolam showed evidence for efficacy that was significantly better than that of placebo. Bothactive agents were tolerated well. After the swift taper, a significantly greater number of taper-relatedsymptoms occurred in the alprazolam-treated group than in the abecarnil-treated group, which wasnot different than in the placebo-treated group. Additionally, less residual improvement followed thetaper in the alprazolam-treated and the placebo-treated groups. These data indicate that the partialbenzodiazepine agonist abecarnil may be useful as a safe, effective, short-term treatment for anxiety.Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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Volume: 58

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