A pill that helps people cut down on alcohol will be available to people in Britain who drink half a bottle of wine or three pints a night or more. Experts say the drug reduces the urge to drink and can be prescribed alongside counselling support.
Professor Carole Longson, health technology evaluation centre director at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), 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."
Nice has published formal guidance recommending the drug, Nalmefene, which sells at €3 a pill, following on from draft guidance released in October, which means that patients have the right to request the drug if they meet certain requirements.
Information given by the drug's manufacturer Lundbeck identifies fictional examples of the sort of people eligible for Nalmefene, 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 eating with her husband, and opens a second bottle a few days each week".
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. Experts say the drug reduces the urge to drink and can be prescribed alongside counselling for those who want to cut down on drinking.
(Daily Telegraph, London)