LAS VEGAS, NV (November 15, 2004) – A drug that helps people quit smokingalso helps them prevent the excess weight gain that often plagues ex-smokers,according to research being released at the North American Association for theStudy of Obesity’s (NAASO) annual scientific meeting.
Rimonabant, developed for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors, nearly doubles a person’s chances of successful smoking abstinence while avoiding post-cessation weight gain, according to results of the first of three Phase III trials. At the end of the 10-week treatment phase of the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, almost 28 percent of subjects who took 20 mg per day of the drug by mouth had stopped smoking for at least one month compared to 16 percent of those who took placebo.
Those who stopped smoking on rimonabant gained only about one pound compared to the approximate 6-pound weight gain seen in the placebo-treated subjects who stopped smoking.
The greatest amount of weight loss on rimonabant was seen in those who weighed the most at baseline. Normal-weight subjects did not lose weight, but were able to maintain their baseline weights on rimonabant, NAASO said. Subjects in the study smoked 10 or more cigarettes per day, with a mean age of 42 years. Results were the same for both men and women.
Both smoking and obesity are considered major risk factors for heart disease, which is the leading killer of people with diabetes.
“Gaining weight is a serious obstacle for many people who would like to quit smoking,” said lead researcher DR. Lowell C. Dale, associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and associate director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center. “A lot of people give up and go back to smoking as soon as they start to put on those extra pounds. This is the first drug that allows them to focus on quitting without being distracted by worries of trading one health problem for another.”
These are the initial results of the first of three large clinical trials studying the use of rimonabant for smoking cessation, the group said. Long-term outcomes of this trial and the results of the other two trials are still pending. All of the results will be presented to the Food & Drug Administration as part of the approval process necessary before the drug can go to market. The drug could be available by early 2006, NAASO said.
The study was presented as part of a joint effort by NAASO and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to increase awareness of the rising problem of obesity and its related health problems in the United States.
NAASO and ADA said they recognize obesity as a significant threat to public health and are cooperating to provide further opportunities for sharing obesity information, increasing obesity awareness and facilitating more research and better clinical care in their joint effort to fight the disease.
NAASO is a scientific society dedicated to the study of obesity. ADA a voluntary health organization supporting diabetes research, information, and advocacy.