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Sober thought: Pill to cut alcohol dependency on prescription in UK

                                                     Published time: November 26, 2014 14:51                                                                                                     

                            

 

 

 
Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett

Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett

Britons who drink half a bottle of wine or three pints a day will be able to get a pill on prescription to reduce their alcohol dependency.

The National Institute  for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has approved the use of  Nalmefene, also called Selincro, to curb people’s alcohol  consumption.

  It’s available for people who drink more than the alcohol limit  set by the World Health Organization (WHO). This is 7.5 units a  day for men and five for women. It’s designed to help patients  gradually cut back on their alcohol intake.

  The pill is said to lessen the craving to drink and has been  licensed for use alongside psychosocial support. Nalmefene costs   £42.42 ($67) for a 14-tablet pack.

  Some 2.1 million Britons are estimated to be mildly dependent on  alcohol. Around 35,000 people are expected to be given the pill  in the first year, while also receiving counseling support. The  institute said with the help of the drug people can reduce their  alcohol intake by up to 1.8 units a day.

READ MORE: Boozy  Britain ‘kills one person every hour’ – health guidelines  issued

  Professor Carole Longson, director of the NICE Health Technology  Evaluation Centre, said: “Many people have a difficult  relationship with alcohol even though they have a very stable  lifestyle, maintain jobs and a social life and would not  automatically assume they have a problem. But regularly drinking  over the recommended daily amount of alcohol can seriously damage  your health.

“Those who could be prescribed Nalmefene have already taken  the first big steps by visiting their doctor, engaging with  support services and taking part in therapy programs. We are  pleased to be able to recommend the use of Namelfene to support  people further in their efforts to fight alcohol  dependence.”

Lyndsey Dudley, a spokeswoman for NICE, said the drug would be  suitable for people who “probably don’t even recognize  themselves as an alcoholic.”

“It is much like a patch that you might wear to give up  smoking to support you to cut down on your alcohol intake. Some  days you might feel stronger than others,” she added.

READ MORE: New  anti-obesity pill to help curb appetite of 78mn Americans

  Nalmefene was approved for use in Scotland in October last year.  Figures show that only 53 people were prescribed the drug in  2013/14.

  Around 1.2 million people were admitted to hospital because of an  alcohol-related condition or injury in England in 2012/13.  Estimates suggest alcohol-related issues cost the NHS in England   £3.5 billion a year.

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