Effect of Sublingual Formulation of Dexmedetomidine HCl (BXCL501) - Alcohol Interaction Study

  • End date
    Apr 12, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Pharmacotherapies for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Consortium
Updated on 12 May 2022


The overall objective of the proposed study is to determine if Dexmedetomidine HCl (BXCL501) is safe for treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD) with comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and also shows potential signals of efficacy thereby supporting the conduct of later phase clinical trials. Safety endpoints will be compared following an alcohol challenge without and concurrent with BXCL501 treatment.


BXCL501 is a sublingual film containing dexmedetomidine. Dexmedetomidine is an alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonist and has higher intrinsic activity and is more potent in vitro than either clonidine or lofexidine. The drug has a high free brain to free plasma ratio after dosing in rats that persists after plasma concentrations are cleared. Dexmedetomidine does not depress respiratory function. It is not predicted to have abuse potential. BXCL501 will bypass 1st pass metabolism and produce fewer problems in participants with compromised liver function.

This laboratory study is a phase 1, double-blind, placebo-controlled, within subjects study. This study will consist of 3 laboratory test sessions following pretreatment with BXCL501/placebo for 10 heavy drinker participants with comorbid PTSD. Participants (n=10) will participate in a laboratory study with 3 test days (minimum of 2 days, but no longer than 2 weeks between each test session); for each test day they will be assigned to receive sublingual BXCL501 40µg, 80µg and placebo in a randomized fashion. Test sessions will be conducted to evaluate stress (PTSD) reactivity and alcohol cue reactivity. Participants will also receive IV ethanol administered via "clamp methodology" to assess for the effects of BXCL501 in combination with ethanol.

Since this is the first time BXCL501 is being tested in combination with alcohol administration, the study team will be using a modified randomization where participants will not receive the 80µg dose until they have received the 40µg dose.

Condition Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Treatment Placebo, Dexmedetomidine (DEX) for sublingual (SL) administration (BXCL501) - 40µg, Dexmedetomidine (DEX) for sublingual (SL) administration (BXCL501) - 80µg, Ethanol Infusion, PTSD Reactivity Condition, Alcohol Cue Reactivity
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04827056
SponsorPharmacotherapies for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Consortium
Last Modified on12 May 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Male or female, Veterans and non-Veterans, ages 21 to 65
Able to read and write in English and sign the informed consent
Willing to comply with all study procedures and be available for the duration of the study
ECG that demonstrates no clinically significant conduction issues or arrhythmias
Have no clinically significant contraindications, in the judgement of the PI/study physician, for study participation (based on self-reported medical history and brief physical examination)
Have a current diagnosis of Alcohol use disorder (AUD) (mild, moderate, or severe) as determined by MINI-5 and PTSD as determined by the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5)
PCL-5 score >33
Must have > 1 heavy drinking episodes (>4 standard drink units (SDU) for men; >3 SDU for women) in the last 30 days (assessed by the Timeline Follow Back (TLFB))
Not be treatment seeking for AUD
Females of childbearing potential (not surgically sterilized (tubal ligation/hysterectomy) or not post-menopausal (no menstrual period for > 6 months) must be willing to use a medically acceptable and effective birth control method for 3 months before the study and while participating in the study. Medically acceptable methods of contraception that may be used by the participant include abstinence, birth control pills or patches, birth control implants, diaphragm, intrauterine device (IUD), or condoms

Exclusion Criteria

Current bipolar disorder or psychotic disorders as determined by MINI-5
Current diagnosis of a substance use disorder (other than alcohol, nicotine, or marijuana) as determined by MINI-5
Females who are pregnant, nursing, or planning to become pregnant during study participation
Current physiological alcohol dependence requiring a higher level of care (e.g. detox) as determined by study physician conducting physical examination and CIWA score. Tolerance to alcohol will be allowed
Recent history of complicated alcohol withdrawal, alcohol withdrawal seizures, or delirium tremens (DTs)
Score > 4 on Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol Scale (CIWA-Ar) at randomization
History of major medical illnesses including liver disease, heart disease, chronic pain or other medical conditions that the physician investigator deems contraindicated for the participant to be in the study
Clinically significant history of cardiac disease including (a) chronic hypertension (even if adequately controlled by antihypertensive medications); (b) history of syncope or other syncopal attacks; (c) current evidence of orthostatic hypotension (defined as a decrease in systolic BP of 20 mm Hg or decrease in diastolic BP of 10mm Hg within 3 minutes); (d) resting heart rate of <60 beats per minute; (e) systolic blood pressure <110mmHg or diastolic BP <70mmHg; or (f) participants with a QTC interval >440msec (males) or >46msec (females)
Clinically significant medical conditions including hepatic ascites (bilirubin >10% above the upper limit of normal [ULN] or liver function tests [LFT] >3 × ULN)
Renal impairment as measured by BUN/Creatinine
Currently taking the following medications: a) medications for alcoholism (e.g. naltrexone, disulfiram, topiramate, acamprosate); b) psychotropic medications that promote sedation including sedative/hypnotics, barbiturates, antihistamines, sedative antidepressants (e.g. doxepin, mirtazapine, trazodone), and triptans (e.g., sumatriptan); c) antihypertensive medications; d) alpha-2-adrenergic agonists (clonidine, guanfacine, lofexidine); or adrenergic agents prescribed for other reasons are excluded (prazosin). (Permitted Concomitant Medications: The concomitant medications allowed in the study include non-sedative antidepressants used to treat PTSD)
History of allergic reactions to dexmedetomidine or known allergy to dexmedetomidine
Participation in a clinical trial of a pharmacological agent within 30 days prior to screening
Any finding that, in the view of the principal investigator, would compromise the subject's ability to fulfill the study visit schedule or requirements
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