A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, efficacy study of nalmefene, as-needed use, in patients with alcohol dependence.

Neurosciences Institute, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: .
European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 4.37). 04/2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2013.02.006
Source: PubMed


This study evaluated the efficacy of as-needed use of the opioid system modulator nalmefene in reducing alcohol consumption in patients with alcohol dependence. Seven hundred and eighteen patients (placebo=360; nalmefene=358), ≥18 years of age, with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence, ≥6 heavy drinking days and an average alcohol consumption ≥WHO medium drinking risk level in the 4 weeks preceding screening, were randomised (1:1) to 24 weeks of as-needed placebo or nalmefene 18mg/day. The co-primary efficacy analyses showed a significantly superior effect of nalmefene compared to placebo in the change from baseline to month 6 in heavy drinking days (group difference: -1.7 days/month [95% CI -3.1; -0.4]; p=0.012) and a better but not significant effect in reducing total alcohol consumption (group difference: -5.0g/day last month [95% CI -10.6; 0.7]; p=0.088). A subgroup analysis showed that patients who did not reduce their drinking prior to randomisation benefitted more from nalmefene. Improvements in Clinical Global Impression and reductions in liver enzymes were greater in the nalmefene group than in the placebo group. Adverse events were more common with nalmefene; the incidence of adverse events leading to dropout was similar in both groups. This study provides evidence for the efficacy of nalmefene, which constitutes a new pharmacological treatment paradigm in terms of treatment goal (reduced drinking) and dosing regimen (as-needed), in alcohol dependent patients unable to reduce alcohol consumption on their own.

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    • "In vivo studies have demonstrated that nalmefene reduces alcohol consumption, possibly by modulating corticomesolimbic functions.10 Nalmefene showed a significantly superior effect as compared to placebo in the change in HDD from baseline to month 6 (group difference: −1.7 days/month; 95% confidence interval [CI] −3.1 to −0.4; P=0.012).43 As demonstrated above, offering a large panel of therapeutic goals could greatly enhance the access to care, lowering barriers to treatment. "
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    ABSTRACT: Alcohol use disorder is a major public health issue. The absolute mortality burden of alcohol-attributable death has increased over the last 20 years. However, access to care remains very poor and many people with alcohol use disorder are untreated. The main limiting factor for access to care in alcohol use disorder appears to be the reluctance to engage in abstinence. Risk reduction is a developing approach in the treatment of alcohol use disorders, drawing its inspiration, with quite a delay, from the decades-long dominant approach in other substance use disorders. A paradigm shift has recently occurred that places more of an emphasis on reducing alcohol as a therapeutic strategy for patients with alcohol use disorder, to better meet the patients' preferences and needs. The development and recent approval of nalmefene, in alcohol-dependent adults with a high drinking risk level, contributes to enlarging the therapeutic arsenal for alcohol dependence, strengthening the legitimacy of alcohol reduction strategies.
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    ABSTRACT: Background: European Medicines Agency guidelines recognize two different treatment goals for alcohol dependence: abstinence and reduction in alcohol consumption. All currently approved agents are indicated for abstinence. This systematic review aimed to identify drugs in development for alcohol dependence treatment and to establish, based upon trial design, if any are seeking market authorization for reduction in consumption. Methods: We searched PubMed and Embase (December 2001-November 2011) to identify agents in development for alcohol dependence treatment. Additional studies were identified by searching ClinicalTrials.gov and the R&D Insight and Clinical Trials Insight databases. Studies in which the primary focus was treatment of comorbidity, or n≤20, were excluded. Studies were then classified as 'abstinence' if they: described a detoxification/alcohol withdrawal period; enrolled patients who had undergone detoxification previously; or presented relapse/abstinence rates as the primary outcome. Studies in patients actively drinking at baseline were classified as 'reduction in consumption'. Results: Of 602 abstracts identified, 45 full-text articles were eligible. Five monotherapies were in development for alcohol dependence treatment: topiramate, fluvoxamine, aripiprazole, flupenthixol and nalmefene. Nalmefene was the only agent whose sponsor was clearly seeking definitive approval for reduction in consumption. Development status was unclear for topiramate, fluvoxamine, aripiprazole and flupenthixol. Fifteen agents were examined in published exploratory investigator-initiated trials; the majority focused on abstinence. Ongoing (unpublished) trials tended to focus on reduction in consumption. Conclusions: While published studies generally focused on abstinence, ongoing trials focused on reduction in consumption, suggesting a change in emphasis in the approach to treating alcohol dependence.
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to investigate the efficacy and safety of as-needed use of nalmefene 18 mg versus placebo in reducing alcohol consumption in patients who did not reduce their alcohol consumption after an initial assessment, i.e. the pooled subgroup of patients with at least a high drinking risk level (men: >60 g/day; women: >40 g/day) at both screening and randomization from the two randomized controlled 6-month studies ESENSE 1 (NCT00811720) and ESENSE 2 (NCT00812461). Nalmefene 18 mg and placebo were taken on an as-needed basis. All the patients also received a motivational and adherence-enhancing intervention (BRENDA). The co-primary outcomes were number of heavy drinking days (HDDs) and mean total alcohol consumption (g/day) in Month 6 measured using the Timeline Follow-back method. Additionally, data on clinical improvement, liver function and safety were collected throughout the study. The pooled population consisted of 667 patients: placebo n = 332; nalmefene n = 335. There was a superior effect of nalmefene compared with placebo in reducing the number of HDDs [treatment difference: -3.2 days (95% CI: -4.8; -1.6); P < 0.0001] and total alcohol consumption [treatment difference: -14.3 g/day (-20.8; -7.8); P < 0.0001] at Month 6. Improvements in clinical status and liver parameters were greater in the nalmefene group compared with the placebo group. Adverse events and adverse events leading to dropout were more common with nalmefene than placebo. As-needed nalmefene was efficacious in reducing alcohol consumption in patients with at least a high drinking risk level at both screening and randomization, and the effect in this subgroup was larger than in the total population.
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