Swedes stay off the booze medicine

Despite the fact that two medicines combating alcoholism have been shown to be effective, their use is almost unheard of in the Swedish health service. Now the authorities want a concerted drive to change that.

Professor Björn Beerman at the Medical Products Agency has told Svenska Dagbladet that it is completely incomprehensible that medicine which works is not being used. The agency, together with other Swedish authorities, has been called to a meeting schedule for the autumn to take forward recommendations for using the medicines.

The two products are Campral, which was approved in 1996, and Revia, which came onto the market in 2000.

The Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care, known internationally by its Swedish acronym, SBU, concluded in a report in 2001 that the medicines are effective, lengthening the amount of time that the patient can stay off alcohol and reducing the risk of relapse.

Björn Beerman told SvD that he has no explanation as to why the medicines are not being used in Sweden. However, he said that one reason could be that the drug companies behind the products have not actively marketed them since they do not return an especially high profit.

Both medicines need to be combined with psychological treatment such as counselling.

TT/The Local