Lundbeck, a worldwide pharmaceutical company, gets European Union, or EU, approval for a new drug to fight alcohol addiction. The drug is set to be used primarily when formal substance abuse treatment may not be financially feasible for an alcoholic.
The drug, Selincro, is an orally-ingested opioid receptor antagonist, meaning the part of the brain that makes a drinker feel good, the reward pathway, is inhibited by the drug so that less pleasure is felt while drinking alcohol.
A helpful example: if you are hungry and you order a pizza, your five senses react when that pizza is delivered. As you eat it, your reward pathway reacts with pleasure, and your stomach is satisfied because it is no longer hungry.
Drug To Fight Alcoholism
With alcohol, and drug, consumption, your five senses are bypassed. The substance triggers the release of neurotransmitters straight to the brain’s reward system, and the person feels intensified pleasure.
The idea behind an opioid receptor antagonist drug like Selincro to fight alcohol addiction is the drug’s ability to stop that neurotransmitter release to the brain’s reward pathway, decreasing the pleasure felt while drinking. Physical cravings for alcohol are diminished, so the desire to consume alcohol is gone.
If someone who normally drinks to feel that pleasure, can no longer get to the point of pleasure from intoxication, then what is the incentive to drink anymore? And further, if he or she does not think about drinking and is not craving a drink, then wouldn’t that be helpful?
The European Union, comprised of 27 member states, approved the drug after trial studies, but many industry experts don’t believe the drug will prove to be as successful as Lundbeck hopes.
The pharmaceutical company does not plan to submit Selincro for approval in the United States because it has experienced resistance from the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, in the past.