Saturday, 1 November 2008

The yo-yo world of diet drugs

Would you take a diet drug? See our poll right.

  • 01 November 2008
IN THE world of diet pills, last week was a roller coaster.
On 23 October, Sanofi-Aventis suspended European sales of its anti-obesity drug rimonabant (Acomplia), following a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency. The EMA pointed to evidence that the drug doubles the risk of psychiatric disorders and that five people in a large study committed suicide after taking it, compared to just one in a group taking a dummy drug. Concerns over side effects led the US Food and Drug Administration to refuse approval for rimonabant last year.

But it's not all bad news for dieters. People weighing more than 100 kilograms who took the drug tesofensine, made by NeuroSearch of Copenhagen, Denmark, lost almost 13 kilograms in 6 months, on average - twice as much as with any previous diet drug (The Lancet, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61525-1). The drug makes people feel full early in a meal by increasing the pleasurable effects of three neurotransmitters. Larger trials to come will delay its approval, however.

Meanwhile, orlistat, sold over the counter as Alli in the US since February 2007, should soon be approved for pharmacy-counter sales in Europe, too.

No comments: