Study finds the drug topiramate helpful for bulimia
Reuters Health, Anne Harding


NEW YORK (Reuters Health), December 28, 2005 -- The drug topiramate, usually used as an anti-seizure treatment, can reduce binging and purging in women with bulimia nervosa and improve their quality of life, a new study shows.

The results are comparable to those seen with other medications used for bulimia patients, Dr. Marius K. Nickel, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health. Topiramate would be most suitable as a short-term treatment, he added.

"The most important agent is the psychotherapy," he commented.

Nickel of the Inntalklinik in Simbach am Inn, Germany, and his colleagues assigned 60 women with bulimia to 10 weeks of either daily topiramate treatment or inactive "placebo" treatment. The women, who were at least 18 years old and had bulimia for at least 1 year, kept weekly diaries of their binging and purging episodes.

Eleven patients in the topiramate group showed a greater than 50 percent reduction in their frequency of binging and purging, compared with one patient in the placebo group, according to the team's report in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

On average, patients on the drug lost 3.8 kilograms more than patients on placebo.

Patients given topiramate also showed a "much greater" improvement in health-related quality of life than those assigned to the placebo.

"The lowered impairment in social and occupational activities...and the significantly improved emotional well-being...indicate essentially improved health and social life," the researchers write.

While this study is the largest placebo-controlled investigation to date of topiramate for the treatment of bulimia nervosa, Nickel noted, it's still limited because of its small size and the fact that only moderate cases were included.

He and his colleagues conclude: "Additional research is needed to see if these results can be replicated and how long-lasting the benefits are. Studies including male bulimia patients and patients with more severe pathology are also needed."

SOURCE: International Journal of Eating Disorders, December 2005.