An analysis of more than 120 studies finds that naltrexone, Forest Labs' (FRX) Campral (acamprosate), J&J's (JNJ) Topamax (topiramate) and H. Lundbeck A/S' Selincro (nalmefene) all helped alcoholics reduce their drinking.
The oldest FDA-approved alcoholism drug, Antabuse (disulfiram), did not prevent a return to the bottle.
The drugs are underutilized because many primary care physicians refer patients with drinking problems to specialists like drug counselors or to groups like AA. None of these providers can prescribe medicines.
There are almost two dozen drugs that are used off-label to combat alcoholism. No one product works for everyone, though. On average, 12 people need to be treated with acamprosate for one person to benefit. For naltrexone, the ratio is 20:1.
Predictably, the researchers say more studies are needed.