Could new pill to reduce alcohol dependence be coming to Wales?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has recommended the use of a pill, which helps reduce alcohol consumption of those who are alcohol dependent

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Full report: New pill to cut alcohol dependency

Thousands of people across Wales who are dependent on drinking alcohol could benefit from a new medicine that's set to be approved for use next month. Nalmefene or Sellincro is designed for men who drink the equivalent of more than three pints of strong lager a day or woman who daily have more than a couple of glasses of wine along with psychosocial support. Rob Osborne reports.

How does the alcohol pill Nalmefene work?

Nalmefene works by blocking the part of the brain which gives drinkers pleasure from alcohol Credit: PA

The alcohol pill, known as Nalmefene, is administered orally once a day and is taken when people feel the urge drink.

It works by blocking the part of the brain which gives drinkers pleasure from alcohol, stopping them from wanting more than one drink.

Men would qualify to receive the treatment if they consume 7.5 units of alcohol per day - around three to four pints of standard strength lager.

It would be offered to women who consume five units a day, which amounts to around half a bottle of wine.

Nalmefene is the only licensed medicine which helps people reduce their drinking rather than aiding them to stop drinking altogether.

Severe alcoholics and those who are able to cut down without help would not be eligible for the drug.


Can you spot the signs of alcohol dependence?

There are six principal symptoms of alcohol dependency Credit: PA

Alcohol dependence is diagnosed if people show three out of six principal symptoms at the same time within the last year. The are:

  • Strong desire to take alcohol.
  • Difficulties in controlling the use of alcohol.
  • Neglect of hobbies due to alcohol use.
  • Persisting with alcohol use despite seeing it harm themselves.
  • Tolerance to the effects of alcohol.
  • Withdrawal symptoms.

If you want to calculate how many units of alcohol you drink, visit the drink aware website here.

Final decision on new alcohol dependency pill due in November

The final decison on the roll-out of a new drug to combat alcohol dependence will take place in November. NICE say the drug is "clinically and cost effective" when compared to other forms of support.

Nice have recommended the use of a new drug to combat alcohol dependence Credit: PA

Alcohol dependence is a serious issue for many people.

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 programmes.

We are pleased to be able to recommend the use of nalmefene to support people further in their efforts to fight alcohol dependence.

When used alongside psychosocial support, nalmefene is clinically and cost effective for the NHS compared with psychosocial support alone.

– Professor Carole Longson, NICE

New drug could cut alcohol consumption by 61%

The new pill helps to cut alcohol consumption Credit: PA

A new pill, which helps to reduce alcohol consumption, could be heading to Wales. It would be given to drinkers who have half a bottle of wine or three pints a night.

Nearly 600,000 people will be eligible to receive the nalmefene tablet to keep their cravings at bay.

Experts claim the drug, which costs £3 a tablet, could save as many as 1,854 lives over five years and prevent 43,074 alcohol-related diseases and injuries.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommended the drug's use after trials showed it cut drinking by 61% over six months when used with counselling.

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