Anti-drunk drink sparks warnings in France

A "magic" drink claiming to reduce drunkenness and ease hangovers launches in France this week, its makers said Tuesday, prompting scepticism and alarm among experts and health and safety campaigners.

The makers of Outox, a sparkling canned drink, claim it is a "revolutionary" product that "greatly speeds up" the breakdown of alcohol in the blood, according to an invitation to the media launch on Friday.

Sceptics say the drink has not been scientifically proven and could encourage people to drink more or to drive while drunk.

"If someone invented a product capable of really lowering the level of alcohol in the blood, he would deserve a Nobel prize," said Alain Rigaud, president of the anti-alcoholism campaign group ANPAA.

"It risks encouraging people to drive without checking their alcohol level."

"We see this kind of product appear regularly and I am very sceptical," said Patrick Fouilland of F3A, a federation of doctors which fights alcoholism and addiction.

An Outox spokeswoman insisted: "Medical tests have been carried out and they are very conclusive."

The Outox website brands the drink "Just magic".

It was originally produced by a Belgian company which sold the licence to a Luxembourg-based firm, Outox International. Other versions have already been sold in Canada and several other countries.

It launches on Friday in France where distribution agreements are being negotiated, the Outox spokeswoman told AFP.

The company has not revealed its magic formula but among the people due to speak at Friday's launch was Gerard Porte, a scientist who it said would talk about fructose, a sugar used in preservatives and intravenous drips.

Another drink which claimed to reduce alcohol in the blood, called Security Feel Better, was briefly banned in France in 2006 and was forced to alter its marketing message, presenting itself instead as a hangover preventer.

The health ministry said authorities will be unlikely to ban Outox since despite the alcohol warnings the drink itself is not considered dangerous.

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