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The drug Acomplia (rimonabant), still in experimental phases, has proven effective in taking off weight and keeping it off for at least 3 years, a result not shared by other diet medications. The study of Acomplia is the largest to date, including 3000 obese men and women, who, at the start of the study, recorded an average waist size of 40 inches and 35 inches, respectively. Patients were treated with either 5 mg of Acomplia, 20 mg of Acomplia, or a placebo for 2 years. After 2 years, the 20-mg group had an average weight loss of 19 lbs and the average reduction in waist size was over 3 inches. Two-thirds of the patients in this 20-mg group lost more than 5% of their body weight and more than one third lost more than 10% of their weight. Acomplia one day could be used in obese patients the way blood pressure medications are used to treat patients with hypertension. Thus far, the drug appears to be safe and has only been tested on adults. Acomplia, which acts by blocking a pleasure center in the brain, is also being studied for its effects on smoking cessation.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.