Fears over a drug that can be used to treat alcohol addiction are unfounded, according to its first ever systematic review, led by academics at The University of Manchester.

Though the study found no evidence of any serious side-effects linked to Naltrexone, many doctors hold back from prescribing the drug, often citing liver toxicity as a reason.

The review of 89 placebo-controlled randomised clinical trials of Naltrexone is based on 11,194 participants published in BMC Medicine.

Lead author, Dr Monica Bolton, who conducted the research as part of her Master’s degree at Manchester, said, ‘Though Naltrexone is licensed for the treatment of alcohol addiction, it remains under-utilised. And that has devastating consequences for individuals, health, and social services in the UK and around the world.

‘As far as we know there is only one contraindication: painkilling opiates, such as Codeine. These should not be taken with Naltrexone, as it works by blocking opiates in the brain.

‘Up to 58 per cent of alcohol-dependent people in England want to reduce their drinking, and this drug could help them succeed. It is cost-effective and could reduce deaths.’