Analysis

A 'stay-sober' pill: Coming to a pharmacy near you?

An in-development drug may help drinkers avoid embarrassing themselves — if not in time for this year's company Christmas party

Korea already sells supposedly hangover-free alcohol, but what if a pill could stop you from getting drunk in the first place? That's the premise of a new "stay sober" tablet reportedly under development in Australia. The pill, which limits the effect of alcohol on the brain, is being tested on mice — who showed no signs of becoming "tipsy," despite being administered enough alcohol to make them "fall over," reports Britain's Telegraph. Would this just take the fun out of drinking? Here's what you should know:

How does the pill work?
It relies on naloxone, an FDA-approved drug that is typically used to treat heroine overdoses. Researchers used naloxone to target the brain's glial cells, which the immune system uses to protect the brain from outside attack. Mice who were injected with the drug and then given alcohol showed no loss of motor skills. The "groundbreaking discovery" here, says Nick Greene of the Village Voiceis that our immune systems may have more to do with drunkenness than our nervous systems.

And this would work on people, too?
Possibly. The pill "may benefit alcoholics and binge drinkers," says Rheana Murray of the New York Daily News, and could even keep heavy drinkers from embarrassing themselves at their company Christmas party.

When can I get it? 
Not for awhile. There are still some kinks to work out before a "stay sober" pill study could be attempted on humans. "Even the most treacherous frat house hazing," says Dan Childs at ABC, "probably would not involve separating the lightweights from the boozehounds, injecting them with alcohol-filled syringes, and setting them loose on an obstacle course" — as this study did with mice. Regardless, says Greene, "it's a stupid invention" that makes drinking "less fun." The researchers might as well be working on "cake that tastes like arugula."

Sources: ABC News, NY Daily NewsTelegraphVillage Voice

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