'Magic pill' fights weight, smoking, aids heart
Knight Ridder Newspapers Feb. 8, 2006 12:00 AM
It sounds too good to be true: a pill that helps you lose weight, quit smoking and reduce the cardiovascular risks for diabetes and heart disease.
Sanofi-Aventis' new treatment, Acomplia, also known as Rimonabant, has shown promise in a half-dozen clinical trials in curbing the cravings that make people hungry and reach for a cigarette.
The experimental drug, which works differently from other weight-loss medicines, could be approved by the Food and Drug Administration as soon as this month.
Industry analysts predict it could become the world's first blockbuster anti-obesity treatment, with annual sales of $2.4 billion to $4.8 billion.
In studies, a 20 milligram dose once a day helped patients lose 5 percent to 10 percent of their weight in a year, raise "good" high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and improve blood sugar and blood pressure.
"There is a lot of excitement about it," said Daniel Rader, cholesterol expert and director of Presbyterian Medical Center's Lipid Referral Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "We haven't had a new drug for obesity come out in quite awhile, and the drugs we have aren't the greatest."
If Acomplia gets marketing approval from the FDA later this month, Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis has said it could begin selling the pill by June 30.
Acomplia's most common side effects are nausea, dizziness and diarrhea.