Monday, July 16, 2007

Where's the Acomplia?

This drug, generically known as rimonabant, is an endocannabinoid receptor blocker. Do you recognize that word in there--cannabis as in marijuana?

All that is pleasurable in an illegal sort of way mimics some function in the body that causes good vibrations through the central nervous system. As some of you who once inhaled your way through your youth may remember, marijuana not only feels good but causes enormous craving for and pleasure in eating. Block those cellular receptors that hook up with marijuana, and research suggests you can mash the munchies and lose the weight.

Acomplia looked like just what the doctor ordered for those expanding midlife waistlines resulting from years of overeating. Studies suggest that not only can weight be lost, but the metabolic syndrome, a dangerous body state contributing to diabetes and heart disease, can be reversed as well through use of this drug.

Unfortunately, we've got endocannabinoid receptors for more reasons than just enjoying the occasional funny cigarette. Data now suggests that blocking those feel-good receptors increases risk of depression and suicide. The FDA continues to investigate these unwanted outcomes of the drug, and Acomplia's approval is not expected in this country any time soon.

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