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Disulfiram for the treatment of cocaine dependence

  • Pani P
  • Trogu E
  • Vacca R
  • et al.
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BACKGROUND: Cocaine dependence is a disorder for which no pharmacological treatment of proven efficacy exists, advances in the neurobiology could guide future medication development. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the efficacy and the acceptability of disulfiram for cocaine dependence. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched: PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL (up to January 2008), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL-The Cochrane Library, 1, 2009), reference lists of trials, main electronic sources of ongoing trials, conference proceedings. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised and controlled clinical trials comparing disulfiram alone or associated with psychosocial intervention with no intervention, placebo, or other pharmacological intervention for the treatment of cocaine dependence. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Three reviewers independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. MAIN RESULTS: Seven studies, 492 participants, met the inclusion criteriaDisulfiram versus placebo: no statistically significant results for dropouts but a trend favouring disulfiram, two studies, 87 participants, RR 0.82 (95% CI 0.66 to 1.03). One more study, 107 participants, favouring disulfiram, was excluded from meta-analysis due high heterogeneity, RR 0.34 (95% CI 0.20 to 0.58). For cocaine use, it was not possible to pool together primary studies, results from single studies showed that, one, out of four comparisons, was in favour of disulfiram (number of weeks abstinence, 20 participants, WMD 4.50 (95% CI 2.93 to 6.07).Disulfiram versus naltrexone: no statistically significant results for dropouts but a trend favouring disulfiram, three studies, 131 participants, RR 0.67 (95% CI 0.45 to 1.01). No significant difference for cocaine use was seen in the only study that considered this outcome.Disulfiram versus no pharmacological treatment: for cocaine use: a statistically significant difference in favour of disulfiram, one study, two comparisons, 90 participants: maximum weeks of consecutive abstinence, WMD 2.10 (95% CI 0.69 to 3.51); number of subjects achieving 3 or more weeks of consecutive abstinence, RR 1.88 (95% CI 1.09 to 3.23). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There is low evidence, at the present, supporting the clinical use of disulfiram for the treatment of cocaine dependence. Larger randomised investigations are needed investigating relevant outcomes and reporting data to allow comparisons of results between studies. Results from ongoing studies will be added as soon as their results will be available.




Pani, P. P., Trogu, E., Vacca, R., Amato, L., Vecchi, S., & Davoli, M. (2010). Disulfiram for the treatment of cocaine dependence. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

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