Nalmefene is a competitive opioid antagonist that helps individuals reduce alcohol consumption, appears to limit the number of heavy drinking days and total alcohol consumed over time, a new literature review suggests.
When compared to a placebo, individuals who took nalmefene one to two hours before drinking alcohol, consumed significantly less alcohol and had significantly fewer heavy drinking days at six months compared to baseline than those who received placebo.
The main side effects associated with nalmefene included headache, nausea, and dizziness, but they tended to lessen with continued treatment, according to an article in Medscape Medical News.
The study was presented at the Institute of Psychiatric Services (IPS): The Mental Health Services 2016 Conference.
Commenting on the findings for Medscape Medical News, Niamh Fitzgerald, PharmD, University of Stirling, United Kingdom, pointed out that a systematic review and meta-analysis published last year in PLOS Medicine concluded that at best, nalmefene had limited efficacy in reducing alcohol consumption.
Nalmefene was approved in Europe in 2013 to help people curb their drinking. It was subsequently recommended by the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for use in conjunction with psychosocial support to reduce alcohol consumption in adults.