A Review of Rimonabant

One of the diet drugs that is exciting the health community is Rimonabant. While initial trials showed the drug to be very effective at helping patients lose weight, the skeptics wanted to wait for more concrete evidence. A two-year RIO-Europe study examined the drug to prove its effectiveness.

The study

The RIO-Europe trial took 1507 patients and gave them either a placebo or a 5 or 20 mg dose of Rimonabant. The studied followed the patients for two years. At the end of the trial, the patients that had been taking the 20 mg dosage had lost both significantly more amount of weight but also several more centimeters from their waistlines.
On average, the patients who took the placebo for two years lost an average of five pounds in weight and an average of 3.4 cm from their waistlines. At the same time, the patients who took the Rimonabant the entire time lost an average of 15-20 pounds and 7.5 cm from their waistlines. At the same time, the patients on the 20 mg dose of Rimonabant had a significant increase HDL cholesterol and a decrease in triglycerides. While patients on the 5 mg dose did not see as great of a change, their numbers also moved in the right direction.
The study found that there were few side effects to Rimonabant, and most were minor and temporary. These included diarrhea, dizziness, and nausea.

Why can't I buy it yet?

With such promising results from the study, more and more overweight patients are clamoring for the drug. Many do not understand why it is not yet on the market.
The idea behind the delay is that the FDA is being extremely cautious. Other drugs, such as Celebrex and Vioxx, also looked promising in trials. Few side effects were seen, but once the drugs were released to the marketplace more unforeseen and serious side effects appeared. These resulted in the a pulling of drugs from the market and serious loss of profits by the drug companies, while at the same time the FDA was being berated by patient advocacy groups.

What could this mean?

There are several routes that the release of Rimonabant could take. It could be released to the general market in force if approved by the FDA. Or the FDA could limit the release to only severely obese patients. If this is the case, it could be years before the average dieter can take Rimonabant. At the same time, it is usually the severely obese that most need Rimonabant.

The good news/bad news

However, before patients become discouraged, it should be pointed out that the patients in the study were severely overweight. Because of this, the 15-20 pounds may not be immediately noticeable in their physique. Instead, the more impressive results from Rimonabant is the improvement in overall health, which could make a huge difference in high risk patients.
While it could be some time before Rimonabant is available on the market, it is definitely worth the wait.