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Nice backs pill for heavy drinkers

Alcoholics should be offered a once-a-day tablet on the NHS to try to help them curb their addiction, health officials have said.

The drug n almefene should be made available to heavy drinkers , the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said in new draft guidance.

Around 600,000 people across England and Wales could benefit from the drug in their struggle against alcohol addiction, manufacturers Lundbeck estimated.

The drug helps to reduce the craving for alcohol by modulating the reward mechanism in the brain.

The draft guidance from Nice states that nalmefene should be available as an option for those who are heavy drinkers but not those who require immediate detoxification.

"Alcohol addiction is a serious issue for so many," said Professor Carole Longson, director of Nice's Health Technology Evaluation Centre.

"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.

"We are pleased to be able to make draft recommendations which can support people in their fight.

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

A consultation has been opened on the draft guidance and it is expected final guidance will be published later this year.

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