Journal scan

‘No evidence’ for use of drug to curb excess drinking

At a time when the NHS is strapped for cash, money should not be spent on a drug supposed to deter people from drinking, claim editors.
Excess drinking

At a time when the NHS is strapped for cash, money should not be spent on a drug supposed to deter people from drinking, claim editors.

There is no direct evidence to support the effectiveness of nalmefene, the drug approved for use in the NHS in England by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to curb excess drinking among those who are alcohol dependent.

Thats the conclusion of editors of the BMJs Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, who argue that evidence of clinical or cost effectiveness of the drug is weak.

Incongruous

'At a time when the NHS is removing some basic items from prescription, it seems incongruous that it continues to fund nalmefene despite having no real understanding of its actual impact on patient outcomes, they

...

At a time when the NHS is strapped for cash, money should not be spent on a drug supposed to deter people from drinking, claim editors.

Excess drinking
Should money be spent on a drug to deter drinking? Photo: Alamy

There is ‘no direct evidence’ to support the effectiveness of nalmefene, the drug approved for use in the NHS in England by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to curb excess drinking among those who are alcohol dependent.

That’s the conclusion of editors of the BMJ’s Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, who argue that evidence of clinical or cost effectiveness of the drug is weak.

Incongruous

'At a time when the NHS is removing some basic items from prescription, it seems incongruous that it continues to fund nalmefene despite having no real understanding of its actual impact on patient outcomes,’ they said. 

Editor in chief Dr James Cave added: ‘We should not be using this drug.’

The magazine says the makers of the drug should be compelled to provide robust evidence of the effectiveness of nalmefene, which interferes with reward mechanisms in the brain triggered by alcohol consumption.

Immediate detox

After approval by NICE in 2014 as a daily tablet for those not requiring an immediate detox, spending on the drug in primary care has quintupled to £15,000 a month in England. But the Bulletin editors point to modest reductions in drinking compared with placebo, and lack of evidence of health-related outcomes.

Researchers say no study has specifically targeted people for whom the drug was licensed.


Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (2016) Nalmefene – time for last orders? Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin. doi 10.1136/dtb.2016.9.0421

 

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs