Alprazolam (Molecule of the Month for July 2003)
A member of the family Benzodiazepines, it is taken orally. It has a relatively short half life compared to other benzodiazepines (11-16 hours) and fewer metabolites accumulate. This is of benefit to elderly patients. Benefits can be seen in a day to a week. The drug gained FDA approval in 1981.
It is an anti anxiety agent and is prescribed for the short term relief of mild to moderate anxiety/tension. It is also used in the treatment of panic attacks, irritable bowel syndrome, PMS, agoraphobia, essential tremor and ringing ears.
The drug affects the limbic, thalamic and hypothalamic regions of the CNS. It binds with receptors to stop the action of certain neurotransmitters. This produces CNS depression.
Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for July 2003 )