Is There a Role for Selective Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor Therapy in Bulimia Nervosa? A Placebo-Controlled Trial of Brofaromine

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Abstract

Pharmacologic and cognitive behavioral therapies have been advocated in the treatment of bulimia nervosa (BN). Brofaromine, a selective and reversible inhibitor of monoamine oxidase-A was selected for a double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation because of previous demonstrated monoamine oxidase inhibitor efficacy in BN and because of its safer adverse reaction profile. Thirty-six female patients who met DSM-III-R criteria for BN were randomly assigned to the drug group (N = 19) or to the placebo group (N = 17) for an 8-week outpatient trial. Brofaromine produced a significant effect in decreasing episodes of vomiting throughout the trial, although comparable reductions in episodes of binge eating were found in both groups. Also, there were no advantages of drug over placebo on improvements in attitudinal measures and shape or on self-report ratings of depression and anxiety. However, a significant proportion of the subjects on brofaromine lost weight when compared with the placebo group. Methodologic issues including subjective assessment measures, placebo response rates, and the elucidation of responder subgroups are discussed. (J Clin Psychopharmacol 1993;13:415–422)

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