Anti-obesity drug has no benefit for artery disease

Taking the anti-obesity drug rimonabant does not help to slow down the progression of coronary artery disease in obese patients, US research suggests.

The findings indicate that although the drug can help obese and overweight patients to lower their body weight, the risk of coronary artery disease may remain.

For this latest study, the researchers randomly assigned 839 patients to daily treatment with either rimonabant (20mg) or a placebo for 18 to 20 months.

Progression of coronary artery disease was measured using intravascular ultrasound, a technique that directly measures plaque build-up in the coronary arteries.

At the end of the study, researchers found that patients on rimonabant lost an average of 4.3kg compared with just 0.5kg in the placebo group.

However, LDL cholesterol levels and the rate of progression of coronary disease did not change significantly between the two groups.

In December, a draft technology appraisal from NICE called for further evidence on rimonabant compared with diet and exercise, as well as orlistat and sibutramine.

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