An experimental drug to treat alcohol dependence has shown promising results in three clinical trials in Denmark. The company is now submitting the drug for approval in Europe, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The drug, nalmefene, was tested for its effectiveness in reducing a person’s craving for alcohol. Unlike current drug treatments for alcoholism, nalmefene can be taken with alcohol. Nalmefene blocks a craving mechanism that is regulated by the brain’s opioid receptors, according to the article. Other currently available drugs that treat alcoholism discourage drinking by causing unpleasant side effects when a person drinks even a little bit of alcohol.
The three studies included a total of 2,000 people with alcohol dependence. Half were given nalmefene and half were given a placebo, on an ‘as-needed’ basis, according to a news release by the company, Lundbeck A/S. The study found the drug reduced heavy drinking days and total alcohol consumption within the first month of treatment. The improvement was maintained throughout the yearlong study, according to the company. The most common side effects were dizziness, insomnia and nausea.
The company is not currently planning to request approval for the drug in the United States because it is an older drug and does not have strong patent U.S. patent protection, the article states.