Acomplia rimonabant was a new weight loss drug discovered by a French pharmaceutical company which was slated for release in 2006.
Although some early tests had been promising, scientists were concerned about the potential side effects, a problem which many of the current anti-obesity drugs have faced.
Acomplia was a new drug that targeted obesity in a different fashion than typical weight loss medications.
It worked by blocking the activity of CB1 Receptors, which are part of a newly discovered "hunger center" called the Endocannabinoid (EC) System.
Chemicals produced in your body called cannabinoids latch onto these CB1 Receptors, which send out a hunger signal prompting you to eat more. These CB1 receptors are much more active in obese people.
Since Rimonabant impedes the activity of these CB1 receptors, hunger pangs are reduced and therefore you will not feel the need to eat as much.
Although the drug has been shown to be effective in mice as well as early human clinical testing, experts were concerned with the potential serious adverse effects that may occur as a result of interfering with this newly discovered "hunger signal" mechanism.
Although cravings can be curbed, experts caution that there is a possibility of other psychological disorders arising as a result of Acomplia usage.
According to an October 2004 study conducted at Vanderbilt University, embryos of pregnant mice who lacked the CB1 Receptor failed to go through the oviduct to the uterus.
This study lead the researchers to caution that the drug may cause ectopic pregnancies in young women, a condition where the placenta and fetus develop outside the uterus.
Further testing had to be done to determine the safety and efficacy of this new weight loss drug. Hopefully if more problems arise, the FDA will not approve the drug to be released in the United States.
UPDATE: Rimonabant was never approved in the United States and was withdrawn from the European market as well due to mounting safety concerns. The increased risk of serious psychiatric issues as well as suicide were cited as reasons, and the company officially stop selling the weight loss drug in 2009.
It's interesting to note that many of the other anti-obesity drugs are experiencing similar problems. We reviewed another one, Meridia, that was recalled in 2010 due to increased risk of cardiovascular events.
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