herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Pill to help curb your alcohol cravings

Many patients find it hard to swallow tablets
Many patients find it hard to swallow tablets

A pill that helps people cut down on alcohol is now be available in the UK.

Experts said the drug reduces the urge to drink and can be prescribed alongside counselling support.

Nalmefene, also called Selincro, is suitable for anyone who regularly drinks high amounts of alcohol, which is defined by the World Health Organisation as 7.5 units a day for men and five units a day for women.

It helps patients gradually cut back on their alcohol intake and therefore is not suitable for anyone with a severe alcohol problem who needs to stop immediately.

The pill can be taken up to once a day and is designed to be used whenever the patient wants to stave off the desire to drink.

Lyndsey Dudley, a spokeswoman for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in the UK, said the drug would be suitable for people who "probably don't even recognise 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 said.

Data released yesterday for Scotland, where nalmefene has been approved for use since October last year, show only 53 people were prescribed the drug in the year 2013/14.

Ms Dudley said the figure may change as "people might not want to go down the medication route straight away".

difficult

Information given by the drug's manufacturer Lundbeck identifies fictional examples of the sort of people eligible, including Sue (39) who "looks forward to a glass of wine after work when the kids go to bed but always finishes the bottle while cooking, and opens a second bottle a few days each week".

Professor Carole Longson, Nice health technology evaluation centre director, said: "Many people have a difficult relationship with alcohol even though they have a very stable lifestyle, maintain jobs and a social life."

hnews@herald.ie

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