A new drug that suppresses people's desire to drink too much wine has been backed by the UK body responsible for approving new medicines and health treatments.

Doctors in the UK are set to be given the green light to prescribe the drug, named Nalmefene, to patients who drink high amounts of alcohol.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) has approved Nalmefene pills for use in its new draft guidance for the country’s National Health Service.

It believes 600,000 people could benefit from the drug. A high amount of alcohol is considered 7.5 units for men or five units for women: the latter is roughly the equivalent of two large glasses of wine.

The moves comes amid attempts by the UK Government to reduce alcohol abuse in the country. Official guidelines state that men and women should drink no more than 3-4 units and 2-3 units respectively per day.

Nalmefene, which is produced by Danish pharmaceuticals firm Lundbeck. One 18mg pill per day ‘reduces the urge to drink’, said Nice. It has only recommended the pills alongside psychosocial support.

‘Alcohol dependence is a serious issue for many people,’ said professor Carole Longson, director of the Nice Health Technology Evaluation Centre.

Written by Chris Mercer