Ameisen's claim that he can continue to drink socially, flies in the face of what scientists know about treating alcoholism, said Dr. Nicholas Pace, an addiction expert and a clinical professor of medicine at New York University.
"I have studied alcoholism for the past 40 years, and there is no single magic bullet. This is a complex disease, and you can't just flip one switch," Pace said.
"The idea that an alcoholic can drink socially is simply a lot of bull," he said.
Pace said beyond just physical and psychological cravings, the very way an alcoholic's body, particularly his liver, responds is different from that of nonalcoholics. Furthermore, he said, the causes for the disease are complicated, and any effective treatment has to address them all.
"There are all kinds of factors that contribute to the disease of alcoholism. There is genetic predisposition, biology and social triggers," he said. "A pill can't change someone's genetics, his liver or the social settings [in which] he finds himself."
European researchers are also skeptical that baclofen is a miracle cure.
"To let people think that there is a miracle molecule is to misjudge the complexity of alcoholism, and this is irresponsible," Michel Reynaud, a researcher at Paris' Hopital Paul-Brousse, who has applied for a grant to study baclofen's efficacy, told Agence France Presse.
Since the release of "Le Derner Verre," French doctors have reported an increase in patients seeking the drug as treatment for their addiction.
Fabienne Bartoli, deputy director of the AFSSAPS, the French equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration, which tests and certifies drugs as safe, said doctors prescribing the drug in an off-label way do so at their own risk.
In high doses, she said, the drug can be dangerous and cause respiratory failure.