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Final draft guidance approves use of nalmefene by NHS

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A drug to help alcohol-dependant patients reduce the amount they drink has moved a step closer to be approved for use in the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has recommended the use of the drug nalmefene (Selincro) in its latest draft guidance for the NHS.

It is expected that around 600,000 people will be eligible for the treatment if, as expected, NICE goes on to approve the drug in final guidance in November. 

“Alcohol dependence is a serious issue for many people”

Carole Longson

Nalmefene is taken as a daily tablet and prescribed to patients who continue to have high drinking risk levels two weeks after initial assessment.

According to the World Health Organization, high risk drinking levels are defined as more than 7.5 units per day for men and more than 5 units for women.

The drug is an opioid receptor modulator, which reduces the urge to drink and is licensed for use alongside psychosocial support for the patient.

Professor Carole Longson

Professor Carole Longson

It works by exhibiting antagonist activity at the mu and delta opioid receptors, and partial agonist activity at the kappa opioid receptors.

Nalmefene costs £42.42 for a pack of 14 tablets or £84.84 for a packet of 28 tablet.

Professor Carole Longson, director of NICE’s Health Technology Evaluation Centre, said: “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 namelfene to support people further in their efforts to fight alcohol dependence,” she said.

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


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