Switching from long-term benzodiazepine therapy to pregabalin in patients with generalized anxiety disorder: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

J Psychopharmacol. 2012 Apr;26(4):461-70. doi: 10.1177/0269881111405360. Epub 2011 Jun 21.


To evaluate the efficacy of pregabalin in facilitating taper off chronic benzodiazepines, outpatients (N = 106) with a lifetime diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (current diagnosis could be subthreshold) who had been treated with a benzodiazepine for 8-52 weeks were stabilized for 2-4 weeks on alprazolam in the range of 1-4 mg/day. Patients were then randomized to 12 weeks of double-blind treatment with either pregabalin 300-600 mg/day or placebo while undergoing a gradual benzodiazepine taper at a rate of 25% per week, followed by a 6-week benzodiazepine-free phase during which they continued double-blind study treatment. Outcome measures included ability to remain benzodiazepine-free (primary) as well as changes in Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM)-A and Physician Withdrawal Checklist (PWC). At endpoint, a non-significant higher proportion of patients remained benzodiazepine-free receiving pregabalin compared with placebo (51.4% vs 37.0%). Treatment with pregabalin was associated with significantly greater endpoint reduction in the HAM-A total score versus placebo (-2.5 vs +1.3; p < 0.001), and lower endpoint mean PWC scores (6.5 vs 10.3; p = 0.012). Thirty patients (53%) in the pregabalin group and 19 patients (37%) in the placebo group completed the study, reducing the power to detect a significant difference on the primary outcome. The results on the anxiety and withdrawal severity measures suggest that switching to pregabalin may be a safe and effective method for discontinuing long-term benzodiazepine therapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alprazolam / adverse effects
  • Alprazolam / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregabalin
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / adverse effects
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / therapeutic use


  • Pregabalin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Alprazolam