"New use of a pharmaceutical drug offers hope to people struggling with addictions to alcohol. Nalmefene has been around since the 1980s, but has recently been used in Scotland to assist alcohol-dependent people with quitting drinking.
In terms of treating alcoholism, nalmefene is used to reduce the amount of pleasure your brain gets from alcohol, making alcohol less addictive and easier to quit. However, the drug has been used in the U.S. for years as a means of treating narcotics overdoses. In these instances, nalmefene was used intravenously, but Lundbeck, a Danish pharmaceutical company, has recently adapted nalmefene to a pill form. Under the name Selincro, this pill has been tested and proved effective for people who want to stop drinking.
Currently the pill version of nalmefene is only available in the U.K. It has been strongly encouraged for use in Scotland, which is reported to have the highest number of alcohol-related deaths in the U.K.
The pill will likely not be made available to U.S. citizens, however, due to the fact that nalmefene no longer has patent protection in America. Because pharmaceutical companies won’t be able to capitalize on sales of the pill, they likely won’t support its availability in the U.S. This is truly a shame, because Selincro has been successful in helping alcohol-dependent people kick the habit of drinking.
In clinical trials, nalmefene helped clients reduce their alcohol consumption by 50%. Selincro can be taken as you need it, so you don’t have to commit to taking a pill each day. In addition, Selincro also reduces cravings for alcohol as they occur. In this way, the pill acts like a piece of Nicorette or a nicotine patch for people who want to quit smoking.
Right now, Selincro is only available in the U.K. and can only be prescribed to people who have a heavy drinking problem. However, Lundbeck has stated that the pill should not be used for severely dependent alcoholics, who likely require additional medications and detox supervision. This pill also isn’t available for clients who aren’t also receiving addiction treatment therapy. This is especially good because the pill’s availability might otherwise encourage people to try to quit drinking cold turkey by themselves.
Even if Selincro remains unavailable to U.S. citizens, the development of this alcohol treatment method suggests promising things for the future of alcohol addiction recovery. Hopefully, a similar aid will be developed for use in the U.S. as well."