Plans to spend about £150m on prescribing a pill to help people cut down on drinking have been ridiculed by local MEP Paul Nuttall.
The UKIP politician said: “I actually find it offensive that the health watchdog NICE is recommending a £3 tablet to people who like a few drinks but has turned down eight consecutive therapies for advanced breast cancer since 2011 on the grounds of cost.
“They don’t think it appropriate to approve drugs that can give people precious time with their loved ones but want to dole out a pill for which there is little if any demand.
“This drug, nalmafene, is aimed at a disinterested target - those who simply enjoy two or three glasses of wine or beer at evenings and weekends. This provisional guidance tells doctors to prescribe the pill for a maximum of six months alongside counselling sessions such as with Alcoholics Anonymous.
“It is a ridiculous idea. I appreciate that there is a drink problem in this country and alcohol should be treated with respect, but so should the millions of sensible people in this country who like a couple of social drinks.
“What about the additional cost to the state of this counselling and which self-respecting person is going to trot along to Alcoholics Anonymous to seek help for downing a couple of glasses a wine?
“All medicine comes with potential side effects and this one can cause unpleasant side effects such as sickness, dizziness, headaches and sleeping problems.
“Government intrusion in our daily lives is growing at a worrying pace with privacy and liberty under increasing threat. Under this guidance patients who trot along to the GP for a routine appointment will find themselves being subjected to a series of questions to check their drinking habits.
“Some people, and sadly often the young, do drink way too much and clearly endanger their health and NICE would be better employed tackling that issue through education than the soft target of the social drinker.
“Goodness only knows what they’ll come out with next.”