Recent clinical trials have begun to suggest that the drug lisdexamfetamine used for treating attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might also be helpful in people suffering from binge eating disorder (BED). Nearly 4 million Americans suffer from BED, referring to recurrent episodes of eating excessive food, leading to numerous health problems.
The researchers at the Lindner Center of Hope Research Institute in Ohio thought of employing the widely used ADHD drug for the clinical trial because both conditions exhibit impulsivity, obesity and dopamine dysfunction.
“In studies of ADHD, lisdexamfetamine improved impulsive symptoms and reduced hunger. BED is characterized by increased impulsivity and increased hunger, and animal studies suggested drugs like lisdexamfetamine reduced binge eating behavior, said Dr. Susan McElroy, the lead researcher of the study.
Lisdexamfetamine was approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2007 for treating ADHD. In this clinical trial running from May 2011 through January 2012, the drug was given to 500 adults suffering from a mild to moderate version of BED. The researchers administered the ADHD drug in different dosages of 30, 50 or 70 mg/day or a placebo.
Results showed that binge eating days per week were lesser among people who had been given 50 mg and 70 mg doses daily. In a month, 42.2 percent of participants taking 50 mg doses of lisdexamfetamine and 50 percent of those taking 70 mg were able to completely eliminate BED behavior.
“The results of this study need to be replicated in studies of larger groups of people with BED. Pharmaceutical company Shire is having discussions with the FDA about getting approval of lisdexamfetamine for the treatment of BED,” she said.
Previous researches had hinted at using cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy for treating and reducing BED, but those findings were not implemented widely as a result of which many BED patients had remained undertreated. FDA has not, till date, approved any pharmacologic treatment for BED.
The findings of the study have been published in the online journal JAMA Psychiatry. McElroy, emboldened by this clinical trial, hopes to be able to provide better pharmacologic treatment to BED patients.