Fresh data from an updated study of an

Alkermes

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drug for alcoholism showed that patients who switched off a placebo and onto the drug after six months saw incidence of heavy drinking decline.

Vivitrex is an injectable agent that is supposed to bind to opioid receptors and diminish the craving for alcohol. Alkermes previously reported a six-month phase III trial in which the median number of heavy drinking days among patients was cut to three from 19.

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Monday's data followed most of the same patients over an additional year. In addition to Vivitrex, all the patients in the study received counseling.

According to Alkermes, patients who continued to received 380 milligrams of Vivitrex had a median number of 1.6 heavy drinking days per month over the 12 months, compared with 2.6 days per month in the initial six months. Patients who got a placebo in the first six months then moved to 380 milligrams of Vivitrex went from 5.2 heavy drinking days per month over the first six months to 1.8 days in the 12-month extension.

A heavy drinking day was defined as one in which patients -- most of them problem drinkers or alcoholics when the study began -- drank five or more drinks a day (four or more among women).

"These results complement the data from our phase III efficacy study and reinforce our belief that pharmacotherapy has the potential to advance the standard of care for alcohol dependence," Alkermes said.

The stock was little changed on the news, recently falling 8 cents to $11.37.