Is a 'Hangover Pill' a Lifesaver or Fueling the Alcohol Epidemic?

Playing Could an Alcohol Poisoning Antidote Change How We Drink?

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The Doctors discuss research out of UCLA, where a chemical and biomolecular engineering professor designed a capsule filled with three natural enzymes usually found in liver cells to help the body process alcohol faster. These enzymes were tested on intoxicated mice and after four hours, the blood alcohol content of the mice decreased by 45%!

Researchers are saying human clinical trials could begin as early as in one year from now. Could this so-called hangover pill be a lifesaver for alcohol poisoning, or could it remove the consequences of hard drinking, fueling the already existent alcohol epidemic in this country? 

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The Doctors discuss the pros and cons of a pill like this becoming readily available. ER physician Dr. Travis Stork doesn’t think this pill should be called a hangover pill but he does think it could be useful in saving the lives of those with alcohol poisoning or alcohol addictions. He thinks it could be used in an emergency room situation to lower someone’s blood alcohol content and possibly prevent them from going on a ventilator. Additionally, for an alcoholic, this pill could decrease stress on an overworked liver, ideally in a situation where they are simultaneously going through treatment.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon compares it to Narcan, which is used to treat an opioid overdose in an emergency situation. Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra likes this comparison and thinks this would be the best use in an acute situation. Her fear is that if this becomes too readily available, people will think it’s a way to drink with reckless abandon and no repercussions. Alcohol-related deaths are at an epidemic proportion in this country with 88,000 per year between 2006-2010. She worries a “get out of jail free card” like this will make it worse.

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Dr. Ordon agrees this could be a way for young adults and college students to think they can binge drink even more. However, he himself could find it beneficial if he wanted to have a drink or two the night before he had to work in the morning and this pill would ensure he would feel okay the next day. 

It remains to be seen if this pill will work in humans and come to market but if it does, The Doctors will keep you posted!

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