NICE draft guidance recommends nalmefene for alcohol dependence

Nalmefene has been recommended in final draft guidance by UK health watchdog NICE to help people who are dependent on alcohol to cut down on the amount they drink.

In the draft guidance, NICE says nalmefene should be available as an option for those who regularly drink high amounts of alcohol, which is defined as more than 7.5 units per day for men and more than five units for women, according to the World Health Organization. This means nearly 600,000 people will be eligible to receive the treatment.

Lundbeck’s Nalmefene (also called Selincro) is taken as a once-daily tablet as needed and reduces the urge to drink. It is licensed for use alongside psychosocial support to help people reduce their alcohol consumption and give them the encouragement they need to continue with their treatment.

Prof Carole Longson, NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre director, 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.

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

This is the first technology appraisal guidance where the recommendations cover both health and social care since the formalisation of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Health and Social Care Information Centre Regulations 2013. These regulations requires clinical commissioning groups, NHS England and, with respect to their public health functions, local authorities, to comply with the recommendations in this appraisal within three months of its date of publication.

Final guidance on the use of nalmefene is expected to be published in November 2014. Until final guidance is published, decisions should be made locally on the funding of the treatment.

The draft guidance (final appraisal document/FAD) is available on the NICE website.

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