London: A new once-a-day pill which could help problem drinkers reduce the amount of alcohol they consume has been launched in the UK.
Manufacturers claim that dependent drinkers who take the drug nalmefene and undergo counselling can cut their alcohol consumption levels by 61 per cent.
The pill, also known as selincro, has been licensed for use by health officials in the UK and will be available for doctors to prescribe to their patients from today.
The drug has been licensed for "the reduction of alcohol consumption in adult patients with alcohol dependence without physical withdrawal symptoms and who do not require immediate detoxification", The Independent reported.
While current drugs help patients to quit alcohol, nalmefene helps people with drinking problems to cut back on the amount they drink.
The drug works by modulating the reward mechanism in the brain, Press Association reported.
A clinical trial into the drug helped patients cut the amount they consumed from 12.75 units a day to five units a day - a 61 per cent reduction.
Also patients who underwent counselling as well as taking the drug reduced their "heavy drinking days" from 23 days a month to nine days a month after undergoing the treatment for six months, researchers said.
"The people who we saw in the study were not stereotypical alcoholics, most of them had families and jobs," said drug investigator Dr David Collier, of Barts and The London School of Medicine.
"For the majority, only they and those closest to them would have known that they had a problem with drinking.
"The results of the studies suggest that nalmefene, in combination with counselling, is a potentially helpful new option for the many people like them in the UK who need some assistance in cutting down their drinking," Collier said.