Ritanserin in the treatment of cocaine dependence

Bankole A. Johnson, Y. Richard Chen, Alan C. Swann, Joy Schmitz, Jary Lesser, Pedro Ruiz, Philip Johnson, Christopher Clyde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Sixty-five cocaine-dependent subjects were enrolled into a 10-week randomized, double-blind study to determine the safety and efficacy of the serotonin-2 receptor antagonist, ritanserin (10 mg/day), in reducing cocaine consumption and craving. All subjects also participated in a structured intensive outpatient psychosocial program. Seventy-three percent of the participants completed the treatment program and follow-up. Subjects experienced a significant reduction in craving: 66.4% and 32.5% for the placebo and ritanserin groups, respectively. These reductions in craving were not paralleled by substantial decreases in cocaine use. Self-reported cocaine use was less frequent in the placebo group; paradoxically, blood levels of its metabolite, benzoylecgonine, were also higher although insignificantly so. Generally, ritanserin was well tolerated but significantly prolonged the QT(c) interval on the electrocardiogram. This outpatient program is effective at maintaining cocaine-dependent individuals in treatment and reducing craving. Ritanserin (10 mg/day) is not an efficacious adjunct to psychosocial treatment for cocaine dependence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)932-940
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 15 1997


  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine
  • Humans
  • Ritanserin
  • Serotonin
  • Serotonin-2 antagonist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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