Thursday, October 9, 2014

Have a problem? Take a pill!


"Hundreds of thousands of people drinking half a bottle of wine a night are to be put on the first ever drug to help reduce alcohol consumption, under plans announced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).  
Men drinking three pints of beer and women drinking two large glasses of wine per night and who do not cut down within two weeks should be prescribed a new drug, NICE has said.  
There are an estimated 750,000 people in the UK who would be eligible for nalmefene who show no overt symptoms associated with their drinking.  
The plans mean GPs will actively ask patients about their alcohol consumption even when they see them for unrelated health matters such as low mood, inability to sleep, diabetes and high blood pressure.  

Prof Mark Bellis, alcohol lead for the Faculty of Public Health said there were relatively simple alternatives that would reduce alcohol consumption without the need to medicate the middle classes such as reducing advertising of alcohol and introducing a minimum price per unit.  
The drug, which costs £3 per tablet, is taken when people feel the urge to have a drink and stops them from wanting more than one. In clinical trials the drug helped people to cut their alcohol consumption by about 60 per cent from 13.5 units a day to five units. 
However this was only 1.8 units more than those receiving just counseling."

Why not just pump it into the water supply, like fluoride?

This is actually a really old drug (1970s) that is not even sold anymore in the U.S. If it works anywhere near as well as the other opioid-antagonists, like its cousin, Naltrexone, then I'm pretty confident that it doesn't work at all. (Not that I'm all that sanguine about the benefits of counseling in this regard, either.) There's a big difference between demonstrating positive effects in a clinical trial and success in the real world. How many patients do I know who've kicked opiates with Naltrexone? None.


  1. I'm sorry, this amount of alcohol consumption seems a really low threshold to me. Am I that much of an alcoholic, or are they really micromanaging people's lives?

    And "NICE?" Seriously? How Orwellian is THAT?

    1. Well...for men, 3 pints a night = 21 units of alcohol a week. The AMA recommends no more than 3 units a day, and no more than 10 a week.

      The thing I find creepy is that this isn't a "cure" for alcohol abuse -- the drug just keeps you from enjoying the effects of the alcohol. There's no consideration that there might be a very good reason why someone would drink 3 pints a night. Big Brother knew that -- that's why he let the proles drink their Victory Gin. Heavy drinking might be the only way people can endure dreary lives under socialism. Maybe NICE should ask themselves if they really want Britons sober? As they used to say next door, "Ireland sober is Ireland free."


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