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The first drug to reduce alcohol consumption hits the shelves here

It is the first product to be granted a licence for alcohol reduction.

A NEW TREATMENT for heavy drinkers that claims to reduce alcohol consumption by 61% is now available in Ireland.

Called Selincro, it’s aimed at alcohol-dependent patients, and its makers saw a 61% reduction in alcohol consumption after six months of treatment in suitable patients.

It’s aimed at reducing alcohol consumption (rather than total abstinence) in patients who have a high drinking risk level – and who don’t need immediate detoxification.

Patients take one tablet each day that they think they might drink alcohol.

It doesn’t prevent the intoxicating effects of alcohol, and it costs €100 for 28 tablets or €50 for 14 tablets.

In the UK, it is going to be funded by the NHS. Here, it is available through the HSE.


Selincro is the first product in Europe to be granted a licence for alcohol reduction. Previous treatments were licensed for the maintenance of abstinence.

GPs can prescribe Selincro, and they will also provide the patients with “ongoing psychosocial support to help them to comply with the treatment and to motivate them to reduce their drinking”.

Until now, treatment of alcohol dependence has largely been reliant on total abstinence. The makers of Selincro said that the treatment plus psychosocial support is effective in reducing alcohol consumption in patients with a high drinking risk level by 61% after six months of treatment.

In the clinical trials, the average reduction corresponded to nearly three pints per drinking day.

Not for all heavy drinkers

But it’s not for everyone with alcohol problems – patients “who have physical withdrawal symptoms, require immediate detoxification, or have a treatment goal of abstinence” are not suitable for Selincro treatment.

In a fictional example of the kind of person who might take it, the drug manufacturers identify a 39-year-old woman who “looks forward to a glass of wine after work when the kids go to bed but always finishes the bottle while cooking and eating with her husband, and opens a second bottle a few days each week”.

Dr Garrett McGovern, a Dublin-based GP who specialises in the area of addiction, said that every day, two people in Ireland die from alcohol dependence.

[A]ccording to the Health Research Board National Diary Survey published in 2014 approximately 175,000 people in Ireland are alcohol dependent.

Professor Jonathan Chick from Castle Craig Hospital in Edinburgh was an Investigator in the Selincro clinical studies and is in Ireland to present to Irish GPs.

He said:

Some people find it very difficult to change their drinking pattern, even though they realise it’s harming themselves and perhaps others. No single approach is effective for all such people. Selincro is a helpful addition to the range of treatments we can offer.

The makers of Selincro said that anyone who is concerned about their drinking and the impact that it is having on their health should speak to their doctor.

What do you think of this new treatment? Tell us in the comments.

Read: Russia’s heavy drinkers turn to cleaning products over money woes>

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