Obesity pill hit with double whammy

Weight-loss drugs face some heavy news today. First, more evidence of Acomplia's psychiatric side effects. A Danish study found that patients using the Sanofi-Aventis drug almost doubled their risk for depression. That confirms and strengthens data from an FDA study showing that a quarter of patients on the drug developed psychiatric symptoms, including depression and anxiety. And, researchers say, the new study likely underestimates the problem, because they only admitted patients without a history of depression or anxiety into the study.

Meanwhile, another study concluded that Acomplia and two of its anti-obesity brethren don't work very well. Obese patients using the drugs lost less than 10 pounds, or just 5 percent of their body weight. Researchers said Xenical/Alli yielded a weight loss of 2.9 kg; Meridia/Reductil patients lost 4.2 kg; and Acomplia/Zimulti patients lost 4.7 kg. Though they all helped lower patients' cholesterol, and Xenical/Alli reduced the incidence of diabetes, researchers said the moderate weight loss wasn't enough to justify using the drugs.

To maintain weight loss and keep control on cholesterol and blood sugar, patients need to take the drugs for life, one of the Danish scientists noted. Given the side effects--and the 30-40 percent dropout rates in some trials--a good chunk of people simply won't.

- read the article about the Acomplia/depression link in The Telegraph
- see this BBC News article on the effectiveness study