KSDK NewsChannel 5 - New Diet Drug May Be Available Soon
It's one of the most promising diet drugs doctors have seen in the last ten years. It could be the only one approved in the coming decade.
But those are just two of the reasons many in the medical community are excited about the anticipated approval of a weight loss drug that will be marketed under the name Acomplia.
This is an entirely new class of drug that works on a newly discovered pathway in the brain.
Acomplia turns off something called the "Endocannabinoid System." It's the same system that's turned on by marijuana, making people hungry.
Potential patients aren't alone in their excitement. Dr. Smith is the clinical research director at Mercy Health Research. He conducted clinical trials of Acomplia in St. Louisans with diabetes. His results reflect the findings of more than a thousand patients in the research trial. While it doesn't work for everyone, patients who took Acomplia lost an average of 11 and a half pounds, compared to just over three pounds for those who took a placebo, and lost more than two inches around the waist compared to three quarters of an inch for those who took a placebo.
"We've studied a lot of drugs over the last ten years and this one holds a lot of promise. We're excited about it," says Dr. Smith.
The excitement began with the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the body. This complex pathway called a stress recovery system wasn't even known about five years ago. The theory is that eating too much, especially eating too much tasty food, overstimulates the system leading to obesity.
Acomplia blocks receptors in the endocannabinoid system, not only curbing food cravings, but cravings for nicotine as well. And that's not all. Dr. Smith says some of the most exciting part of the research into Acomplia shows it lowers blood pressure, lowers triglycerides which are a harmful fat in the blood, improves blood sugar and boosts so-called good cholesterol. Some might say it sounds too good to be true.
"I can see why someone would say that. Maybe it's not too good to be true but it certainly is exciting," says Dr. Smith.
"It unlikely that this will be a magic pill depending on what you mean by a magic pill. But this gives about a ten per cent weight loss on people which is twice as much as what you'd get without medication," says Dr. Samuel Klein, director of Washington University School of Medicine's Center for Human Nutrition.