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Effectiveness of Antibiotic Treatment for Reducing Binge Eating and Improving Digestive Function in People With Bulimia Nervosa
This study is currently recruiting participants.
Verified by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), September 2008
Sponsored by: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Information provided by: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00304187

This study will determine the effectiveness of the antibiotic erythromycin in enhancing gastrointestinal function and decreasing the frequency of binge eating in people with bulimia nervosa.

Condition Intervention Phase
Bulimia Nervosa
Eating Disorders
Drug: Erythromycin
Drug: Placebo
Phase II

MedlinePlus related topics: Antibiotics Eating Disorders
Drug Information available for: Erythromycin Erythromycin estolate Erythromycin ethylsuccinate Erythromycin Gluceptate Erythromycin stearate
U.S. FDA Resources
Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Treatment, Randomized, Double Blind (Subject, Caregiver, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor), Placebo Control, Parallel Assignment
Official Title: Effects of Erythromycin on Binge Eating and GI Function in Bulimia Nervosa

Further study details as provided by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Binge frequency [ Time Frame: Measured at Week 7 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
  • Gastric emptying rate [ Time Frame: Measured at Week 7 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]

Estimated Enrollment: 96
Study Start Date: September 2004
Estimated Study Completion Date: December 2009
Estimated Primary Completion Date: July 2009 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
1: Experimental
Participants will take erythromycin.
Drug: Erythromycin
Erythromycin, 250 mg or 500 mg, three times a day for 6 weeks
2: Placebo Comparator
Participants will take matched placebo.
Drug: Placebo
Placebo, 250 mg or 500 mg, three times a day for 6 weeks

Detailed Description:

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a serious eating disorder that is characterized by frequent uncontrolled eating binges. These binges are often followed by compensatory behavior, including the following: self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other medications to induce purging; fasting; or excessive exercise. If left untreated, BN can lead to many serious health issues: tooth decay; irregular menstruation; bowel damage; constipation; heart and kidney disease; intestinal damage; puffiness, especially in the face and fingers; increased hair growth on the face and body; and mineral imbalances in the body. Although there is significant existing knowledge about the characteristics and treatment of BN, more information is needed about gastrointestinal (GI) function and its effect on binge eating behavior. This study will determine the effectiveness of the antibiotic erythromycin in enhancing GI function and decreasing the frequency of binge eating in people with BN.

Participants in this 8-week, double-blind study will first undergo gastric emptying and GI hormone release testing for 1 day. Within 1 week of completing these pre-treatment tests, participants will be randomly assigned to receive either erythromycin or placebo for 6 weeks. Upon medication assignment, participants will meet with a psychiatrist to receive their assigned medication. Participants will receive medication at weekly study visits. Medication dosage will be increased if symptoms do not improve, or decreased if adverse medication side effects are reported. A final day of gastric emptying and GI hormone release testing, as well as routine blood tests, will take place in Week 7, after 6 weeks of medication treatment. Participants' weight will be measured at Weeks 1, 4, and 7. Participants will also receive an EKG 1 week after each upward dosage adjustment. Patients will be informed of their medication assignment at the Week 7 study visit, and will be referred to a non-study clinician for further treatment.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 55 Years
Genders Eligible for Study:   Female
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Meets DSM-IV criteria for bulimia nervosa
  • Duration of illness is greater than 1 year
  • Self-induces vomiting
  • Weighs 80%-120 % of ideal weight

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Significant medical illness
  • Current or lifetime history of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other psychotic disorder, as defined by DSM-IV-TR criteria
  • Moderate to severe depression, as defined by a score greater than 18 on the Hamilton Depression Scales
  • Current DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of organic mental disorder, factitious disorder, or malingering
  • History of a personality disorder (e.g., schizotypal, borderline, or antisocial) that might interfere with assessment or compliance with the study procedures
  • At risk for suicide
  • Current psychotropic medications and current medications that affect GI function or that inhibit or induce CYP3A gene expression
  • Currently pregnant, lactating, or planning to become pregnant
  • Drug or alcohol abuse within the 3 months prior to study entry
  • Abnormal EKG at baseline or 1 week following each upward dosage adjustment
  • Anemia
  • Known intolerance to erythromycin, or related antibiotics
  • Abnormal results on liver function tests
  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  Contacts and Locations
Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00304187

Contact: Benny J. Chen, BA 212-543-6248 edru@pi.cpmc.columbia.edu

United States, New York
Eating Disorders Clinic, New York State Psychiatric Institute Recruiting
New York, New York, United States, 10032
Principal Investigator: B. T. Walsh, MD            
Sponsors and Collaborators
Principal Investigator: B. T. Walsh, MD New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center
  More Information

Responsible Party: The New York State Psychiatric Institute ( B. Timothy Walsh, MD )
Study ID Numbers: R01 MH42206-05, DATR A2-AID
Study First Received: March 15, 2006
Last Updated: September 23, 2008
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00304187  
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government

Keywords provided by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):
Binge-Eating Disorder

Study placed in the following topic categories:
Erythromycin stearate
Signs and Symptoms
Bulimia Nervosa
Erythromycin Estolate
Signs and Symptoms, Digestive
Erythromycin Ethylsuccinate
Mental Disorders
Eating Disorders

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Anti-Infective Agents
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Therapeutic Uses
Gastrointestinal Agents
Enzyme Inhibitors
Pharmacologic Actions

ClinicalTrials.gov processed this record on January 30, 2009