Pill to cure alcoholism? - Macleans.ca

Pill to cure alcoholism?

Dozens of drugs now in development


As excessive drinking has increasingly become the norm, Big Pharma is taking notice, looking for a pill that could “cure” alcoholism, Reuters reports. The industry took a long time to get interested in searching for this type of drug, partly because the perceived market (convicted drunk drivers, the unemployed and homeless) wouldn’t make for great returns, the news agency says. But now that everyday drinkers are on the rise among the middle classes, that’s changing. “The potential market for medications that can be prescribed for these functional alcoholics is huge,” said addiction expert Mark Willenbring, adding that alcoholism research could be approaching a “Prozac moment,” just as depression did, when it becomes acceptable to get a pill prescription to help one through a bad patch. There are now 24 drugs in development for alcoholism; while some such drugs already exist, their functions vary widely. Critics say Big Pharma is just looking to create a “new disease” to make a market for unnecessary medicines, but others say it could help millions improve their health, lowering society’s health care costs along the way.


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