A pill that is taken once a day in order to help beat alcohol addiction has won the backing of health officials in England. The treatment, called nalmefene works by reducing the buzz that addicts get from drinking, thus helping to reduce the need and craving for a drink.
The pill has already been used across Scotland and it is thought that its introduction to the rest of the country could help a further 600,000 alcoholics throughout England. Trials across Scotland revealed that men who usually drank eight units a day and women who drank six a day cut these amounts by 50% while taking the drug over a six month period.
Professor Carole Longson from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) commented:
“Alcohol addiction is a serious issue for so many. Those who could be prescribed nalmefene have already taken the first big steps in their fight against their addiction by visiting their doctor and taking part in therapy programmes. When used alongside psychosocial interventions, nalmefene is clinically and cost effective for the NHS compared with psychosocial interventions alone.”
It has however been emphasised that the pill should only be prescribed in conjunction with continuous psychosocial support.
If rolled out across England, prescribing nalmefene could cost the NHS up to millions of pounds every month. At a price of £84 a month per patient, there have been counterarguments that this funding would be better spent on alcohol counselling services and rehabilitation programmes and that more time and money should go into this instead.
The idea of offering nalmefene on the NHS is currently going through a consultation period and it is expected that final guidance will be made in November of this year.
If you would like more information about alcohol addiction or you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, please feel free to read more about our Alcohol Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation programme. You can also learn more at Life Works Alcohol Knowledge Centre.