Alcohol pill could end middle-class drinking ‘epidemic’

The pill is aimed at people who have a few glasses of wine every night and may not recognise they have a problem with alcohol dependency. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
The pill is aimed at people who have a few glasses of wine every night and may not recognise they have a problem with alcohol dependency. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
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A pill is being developed to stop people craving alcohol, in what could spell an end to the habit of having a bottle of wine with dinner.

Scientists in Hull are reaching the final stages of testing the pill, which could hit the market in 2020.

The drug, which is being created by FTSE 250-listed company Indivior, works by surpassing the buzz that people feel when they have an alcoholic drink.

The pill – called Arbaclofen Placarbil – will help alcoholics get their drinking under control. But Indivior is aiming the pill at people who have a few glasses of wine every night and may not recognise they have a problem with alcohol dependency.

An estimated 124 million people across the world are thought to be alcohol dependent. Health officials have warned repeatedly that many middle-class professionals are in denial about their alcohol consumption.

Pharmaceutical companies have to go through three stages of extensive trials before they can apply for regulatory approval. Companies typically apply for approval in the US, which makes it easier to win approval in other countries.

Indivior is well into the phase two stage. In its financial report, the company said its latest round of tests in the US proved the product was “safe and well tolerated in a controlled abstinence setting” when given in doses of 240mg.

However, there was significant variability between individuals when the dosage was increased and it is now developing a new formula.

There is no product like this on the market. The only option for alcoholics at the moment is to take a drug that makes them sick, which has the effect of taking away any pleasure they get from drinking.

Indivior was spun out of Nurofen owner Reckitt Benckiser in late 2014. The company, which employs more than 50 specialist scientists at its research and development unit in Hull, also makes addiction-control products for people who take heroin or cocaine.

A spokesman for Indivior declined to comment.

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