Obesity drug dropped as 'too risky'

GPs warn treatment options should not be limited where a benefit is shown.

Dr Haslam: 'benefits lost'

GPs have expressed disappointment at the suspension of the weight-loss drug rimonabant.

Dr Ian Campbell, a GP in Nottingham and medical director of the charity Weight Concern, said prescribers are aware of the drug's adverse effects on anxiety and depression and monitored patients closely.

'It is disappointing for those patients for whom the drug is working,' he said.

Around 20,000 patients in the UK have been treated with rimonabant, marketed as Acomplia, but last week the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) decided that its benefits no longer outweigh its risks.

Prescribers should not issue any new prescriptions for the drug, the EMEA said.

Patients do not need to stop treatment immediately, but those who wish to stop can do so at any time, the EMEA advised.

Dr David Haslam, a GP in Hertfordshire and clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, said the move was 'a great shame'.

'I have patients whose diabetes is well controlled who have benefited from rimonabant and that benefit will end when their treatment ends.'

The drug's manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis said it was complying with the EMEA's recommendation and would provide additional evidence for re-evaluation of the drug's benefit-risk profile in patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The EMEA said its assessment showed an increased risk of psychiatric disorders in patients taking rimonabant. In addition, the agency said that the drug's effectiveness in clinical practice had been found to be more limited than was expected.

Sir Michael Rawlins, chairman of NICE, told GP that the institute had withdrawn its June guidance, which recommended the drug for third-line use after orlistat and sibutramine.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

Clinical trials: Microscope in a lab

GPs could be incentivised to recruit patients onto commercial clinical trials

GPs could be offered incentives to recruit patients onto commercial clinical trials...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: How many GPs do we need for safe general practice, pay restoration, the state of premises

Talking General Practice looks at safe working limits and the number of GPs we need...

Stethoscope and a computer

EMIS to keep panic button after outcry from GPs

EMIS, one of the main GP IT system providers, has backtracked on plans to phase out...

Health minister Lord Markham

Health minister Lord Markham: How we will support GPs to offer patients greater choice

Health minister Lord Markham explains what the government's plans for using the NHS...

Patient receives the flu vaccine

Flu vaccination campaign to return to pre-pandemic cohorts this year

This year's flu vaccination campaign is set to be reduced after it was expanded during...

Plant-based diet

Vegan and vegetarian diets can play key role in reducing cardiovascular risk, study finds

Plant-based diets can play a significant role in lowering the risk of stroke and...