Navigation Links
A new treatment option for alcohol dependence: Reduced consumption rather than abstinence

Philadelphia, PA, April 11, 2013 A potential new treatment for alcoholism called nalmefene is effective and safe for reducing alcohol consumption in alcohol dependent individuals, says a new study published this week in Biological Psychiatry.

Traditionally, abstinence has been regarded as the primary treatment goal for alcohol dependence, and current pharmacological treatments for alcoholism are approved only for relapse prevention. However, relapse rates remain high and a goal of abstinence is unacceptable to many patients. To address these concerns and provide opportunities for improved patient outcomes, new evidence-based treatments are necessary.

"Our new findings may mark a true paradigm shift in the treatment of men and women who suffer from alcohol related disorders. While abstinence should be the best bet, a reduction in consumption may be a valuable alternative for the many patients who cannot attain abstinence or are not (yet) capable of doing so," said Dr. Karl Mann at Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany, who led the research.

Mann and his colleagues conducted a clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness of nalmefene in reducing alcohol consumption. They recruited 604 alcohol-dependent patients, half of whom were randomized to receive nalmefene, while the other half received visually-identical placebo pills. Neither patients nor their doctors knew which treatment they were receiving. Patients were instructed to take one tablet on each day they perceived a risk of drinking alcohol, and were followed by the study investigators for 24 weeks.

What they found is promising. Nalmefene was significantly better than placebo in reducing alcohol consumption and it improved patients' clinical status and liver enzymes. It was also generally well-tolerated, with most side effects characterized as mild or moderate and quickly resolved.

"With nalmefene, we seem to be able to 'block the buzz' which makes people continue to drink larger amounts. With such a harm reduction approach, a new chapter in treating alcoholism could be opened," said Mann.

These findings provide evidence that "as-needed" prescription of nalmefene is an effective treatment for alcohol dependence. Unlike medications that must be taken every day, the as-needed approach targets medication administration to periods where alcohol use is more likely.

"It is encouraging to see the efficacy of nalmefene in this clinical trial. There is a need for more treatment options for the pharmacotherapy of alcoholism," said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. "This study also provides support for 'as-needed' treatment, an approach that may be attractive to many patients. However, it flies in the face of the notion that daily treatment may protect people who are either ambivalent about treatment or unaware when they are particularly at risk for relapse."

The first medication developed for the treatment of alcohol dependence was naltrexone, an opioid receptor blocker. At therapeutic doses, it blocks most of the mu subtype of opioid receptors in the brain but it has lesser effects at the delta and kappa subtype of opioid receptors. Nalmefene is a newer opioid receptor modulator that has a subtly different profile at opioid receptor subtypes, with increased relative potency for kappa opiate receptors compared to its potency at mu opiate receptors. It was studied here because it has been shown to have potential for reducing alcohol consumption.

"It remains to be seen whether the differences between nalmefene and naltrexone at opioid receptors yield meaningful differences in their effectiveness," cautioned Krystal.

As with most studies, additional research is necessary, but this study provides strong evidence that nalmefene can provide an important clinical benefit for alcohol-dependent patients.


Contact: Rhiannon Bugno

Related biology news :

1. Stem cells enable personalised treatment for bleeding disorder
2. Breakthrough cancer-killing treatment has no side-effects
3. Measuring ultrasound for better treatment of muscle injuries
4. Vitamin P as a potential approach for the treatment of damaged motor neurons
5. Researchers discover brain cancer treatment using genetic material from bone marrow cells
6. Drug for erectile disorder show promise in the treatment of obesity
7. Beckers Spine Review Releases List of 50 Spine Surgeons & Specialists Researching Biologics for Spine Treatments
8. Discovery could yield treatment for cocaine addicts
9. Novel treatment approach for bladder pain using a herpes simplex virus vector reported
10. Political strife undermines HIV treatment
11. Early antiretroviral treatment reduces viral reservoirs in HIV-infected teens
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/26/2015)... and LAS VEGAS , Oct. 26, ... , an innovator in modern authentication and a founding ... the launch of its latest version of the Nok ... organizations to use standards-based authentication that supports existing and ... Authentication Suite is ideal for organizations deploying customer-facing applications ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... 23, 2015 Research and Markets ( ... Voice Recognition Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report to their ... The global voice recognition biometrics market to grow ... --> --> The report, ... based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from ...
(Date:10/22/2015)... Oct. 22, 2015  Aware, Inc. (NASDAQ: AWRE ), a ... for its third quarter ended September 30, 2015.  ... of 2015 was $4.0 million, a decrease of 33% compared to ... the third quarter of 2015 was $2.2 million, or $0.10 per ... share, in the same period a year ago.  ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of ... , today announced that the company has set a new quarterly ... quarter on quarter growth posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 ... Mexico , with the establishment of an ... --> United Kingdom and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... PA (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... This ... entrepreneurs at competitive events in five states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas ... projects from each state are competing for votes to win the title of SAP's ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... SHPG ) announced today that Jeff ... 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in New York ... a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> SHPG ) announced ... in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) today announced that its Annual ... 11:00 a.m. Israel time, at the law offices ... Street, 36 th Floor, Tel Aviv, Israel . ... and Izhak Tamir to the Board of Directors; , ... , approval of an amendment to certain terms of options granted ...
Breaking Biology Technology: