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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

Weight drug problems pose research issues

Monday August 16th, 2010

Researchers have revealed details of a major study that sought to test the impact of a weight loss drug on heart disease - but was stopped amid concern at suicide rates.

The Crescendo study of rimonabant was running in 42 countries when European regulatory authorities linked the drug to suicides and ordered its use be stopped.

Some 18,000 patients were taking part in the study but just four of these had taken their own lives at this point - in November 2008.

However The Lancet report confirms a high rate of mental health problems among users of the drug - some 32 per cent had shown psychiatric side effects compared with 21 per cent of those taking placebo drugs.

The research also found no evidence of the drug reducing rates of heart attack or stroke.

The drug sought to reduce appetite by interfering with reward signalling in the brain through cannabinoid-1 receptors.

Researcher Professor Eric Topol, of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, La Jolla, California, USA, said: "We believe our findings will be instructive for future drug development.

"Genomics could potentially be used to pre-empt use of the drug in individuals with risk of serious adverse events.

"Also, it is important to recognise how such a large international clinical trial can be placed in jeopardy by not fully addressing side effect issues in an era when regulatory authorities can pull the trigger."

Tags: Diet & Food | Europe | Heart Health | North America | World Health

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