The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has delayed this much-watched medicine as a weight-loss drug and rejected it as an aid to quitting smoking. Another potential problem: the brand name Acomplia. (The drug is generically known as rimonabant.) Sanofi continues to forecast approval for rimonabant in the second half of 2006. In clinical trials, the drug, which works by blocking off the same hunger-causing receptors that marijuana stimulates, cut 3.5 inches off patients' waistlines in clinical trials, helping them shed an average of 20 pounds. Acomplia also appears to reduce several important risk factors for heart disease. For instance, it raises HDL, the good cholesterol, by 27% about as much as any available drug. But patients were more likely to stop taking Acomplia because of psychiatric side effects than placebo.
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