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Obesity Drug Shows Mixed Success Against Atherosclerosis
Date:4/1/2008

Hope is that Acomplia might help fight coronary disease

TUESDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- The weight-loss drug Acomplia may or may not help slow atherosclerosis, a buildup of arterial plaque that's connected with carrying too much weight.

A new trial did not find any evidence that the drug actually slowed disease progression, although it did show a decrease in one measure of plaque build-up in arteries.

Acomplia also showed a high rate of psychiatric side effects, notably depression and anxiety, the study found.

Still, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved with the study, said: "I think it's important for us to understand that this wasn't a negative trial. It's very important that we look at this more closely. What decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol as parameters are needed, or really how much decrease in obesity is needed for us to see a change in atherosclerosis volume? It might pan out to show something beneficial. We just don't know."

The findings, from researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, were published April 2 in the Journal of the American Medical Association and were released early Tuesday to coincide with a presentation at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting, in Chicago. The study was funded by Sanofi Aventis, which makes Acomplia.

Data on a second anti-obesity drug, taranabant, also presented at the conference, also showed a high rate of psychiatric problems, although the medication did show some promise helping patients lose weight.

In the United States, two-thirds of adults are overweight, and more than one-third are obese. People with weight concentrated in their midsection have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and other risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or disease related to the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
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