Almost 600,000 people who are dependent on alcohol could soon have access to a drug that will support them in their struggle against alcohol addiction.

Nalmefene could be available as an option for people who are heavy drinkers but not those who require immediate detoxification, according to new draft guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The drug is taken as a tablet once a day and reduces the craving for alcohol in people who have become dependent.

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The new draft guidance recommends that nalmefene should be prescribed alongside continuous psychosocial support to help reduce alcohol consumption in line with its marketing authority.

Professor Carole Longson, NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director, said: “Alcohol addiction is a serious issue for so many. Those who could be prescribed nalmefene have already taken the first big steps in their fight against their addiction by visiting their doctor and taking part in therapy programmes.

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