Medications development to treat alcohol dependence: a vision for the next decade

Addict Biol. 2012 May;17(3):513-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-1600.2012.00454.x. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


More than 76 million people world-wide are estimated to have diagnosable alcohol use disorders (AUDs) (alcohol abuse or dependence), making these disorders a major global health problem. Pharmacotherapy offers promising means for treating AUDs, and significant progress has been made in the past 20 years. The US Food and Drug Administration approved three of the four medications for alcoholism in the last two decades. Unfortunately, these medications do not work for everyone, prompting the need for a personalized approach to optimize clinical benefit or more efficacious medications that can treat a wider range of patients, or both. To promote global health, the potential reorganization of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) must continue to support the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's (NIAAA's) vision of ensuring the development and delivery of new and more efficacious medications to treat AUDs in the coming decade. To achieve this objective, the NIAAA Medications Development Team has identified three fundamental long-range goals: (1) to make the drug development process more efficient; (2) to identify more efficacious medications, personalize treatment approaches, or both; and (3) to facilitate the implementation and adaptation of medications in real-world treatment settings. These goals will be carried out through seven key objectives. This paper describes those objectives in terms of rationale and strategy. Successful implementation of these objectives will result in the development of more efficacious and safe medications, provide a greater selection of therapy options and ultimately lessen the impact of this devastating disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / drug therapy*
  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System Agents / pharmacology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Approval
  • Drug Discovery / trends*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Placebo Effect
  • Precision Medicine / trends
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / trends
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Central Nervous System Agents