News Feature | July 14, 2014

NICE Endorses Lundbeck's Alcohol Dependency Drug For Use In UK

By Lori Clapper

Lundbeck’s novel alcohol dependency drug has been endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for use in Britain's state health service.

In its draft guidance on Thursday, NICE announced that nearly 600 thousand alcohol-dependent people will have access to the once-daily drug Selincro, also known as nalmefene, to help fight alcohol addiction, PMLive reported last week.

Selincro blocks the action of opioid receptors in the brain, and it is approved for the reduction of alcohol consumption in alcoholics who also seek counseling.

In its evaluation of the clinical trials, NICE said “Nalmefene is the first medicine to be granted a license for the reduction of alcohol consumption in people with alcohol dependence and therefore may present an alternative to the existing pharmacological treatment options for people with mild alcohol dependence.”

This endorsement gives a boost to Lundbeck, which needs new drug products to replace those going off patent, PMLive says. The Danish drugmaker believes this new product has the potential to garner $365 to $457 million in revenue in all markets, however Lundbeck Chief Executive Ulf Wiinberg told Reuters that achieving these figures will not be an easy or quick process.

In addition to Selincro, NICE also recommends the following three drugs for alcohol dependency:

  • Acamprosate acts on chemical messenger systems in the brain, reducing withdrawal symptoms after alcoholics abstain from drinking.
  • Disulfiram is the oldest alcohol dependency drug on the market. It interferes with the body's ability to absorb alcohol.
  • Naltrexone reduces the pleasure that alcoholics receive from drinking as well as the cravings to seek out more alcohol.

Currently there are an estimate 1.6 million people dependent on alcohol in England, according to the UK-based website Alcohol Concern. In addition, prescriptions for medicines to treat alcoholism rose by 12 percent in 2009, and more than 150 thousand prescriptions were written for drugs that treat withdrawal symptoms or induce sickness when alcohol is ingested, according to The Guardian.