The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 10, 2004 - 5
Tests show diet pill has wide-ranging benefits
say Acomplia provides new approach to
tackling weight loss
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An experimental pill that
offers the fairy-tale promise of helping people lose
weight and quit smoking has gathered even more star-
The biggest test yet of the drug found that it helped
people not only drop pounds, but also keep them off for
two years - longer than any other diet drug has been
able to achieve. Cholesterol and other health measures
The impressive results from a study of more than
3,000 obese people were presented at a medical confer-
ence yesterday, capping months of anticipation about
the new drug, Acomplia, made by the French pharma-
ceutical firm Sanofi-Aventis.
Doctors called the research exciting and the compa-
ny, which funded the study, thinks the drug could have
blockbuster potential similar to cholesterol-lowering
In a study of 3,040 obese people throughout the Unit-
ed States and Canada, those given the higher of two
doses of the drug lost more than 5 percent of their ini-
tial body weight, and a third of them lost more than 10
"They achieved and maintained a weight loss of
19 pounds as compared to 5.1 pounds in the placebo
group," said F-Xavier Pi-Sunyer of Columbia Univer-
sity in New York, who led the research and presented
results at the American Heart Association conference.
Those who quit taking the pill in the second year of
the study regained most of what they'd lost, suggesting by attacking obesity in a novel way, and plans to seek
that people might have to take the drug indefinitely to federal approval for it next year.
maintain a lower weight. It's the first diet drug aimed at blocking the "plea-
"We consider this to be a chronic problem. You sure center" of the brain and interfering with the cycle
don't cure obesity, you just of craving and satisfaction
improve it," Pi-Sunyer said. that drives many compul-
About two-thirds of Amer- P iS for pounds sive behaviors and addic-
ican adults are overweight tions. This same circuitry
or obese, raising their risk Diet drug appears to help weight loss is activated when people
of everything from cancer better than many others smoke pot.
and cardiovascular disease "Weight regulation is
to sore joints and snoring. An experimental pill, Acomplia, designed to really kind of an addic-
About a fourth of American help users shed pounds, resulted in a weight tive behavior," said Robert
adults smoke, which brings loss of 5 to 10 percent or more among test Eckel, an expert on metabo-
many of the same woes. users. lism from the University of
It's been devilishly dif- Colorado Health Sciences
ficult to develop effective U The drug is also designed to help users kick Center who had no role in
treatments for either prob- their smoking addictions. the study.
lem. Diet drugs in particu- e Scientists say Acomplia interferes with the It involved people who
lar have a checkered history, brain's cycle that drives compulsive behaviors either were severely obese
most notably the withdrawal and addictions. or were moderately obese
from the market in 1997 of and also had another heart-
the popular "fen-phen" drug related health problem such
combination after users developed heart valve prob- as low "good" cholesterol, high blood pressure, or high
lems. blood sugar.
Drugs now on the market either are designed for They were given nutrition advice and urged to cut
short-term use or have distasteful side effects like 600 calories a day from their diet, and were random-
bowel problems that make many shy away from them. ly assigned to get either a 5- or 20-milligram dose of
Acomplia's maker thinks it will avoid those problems Acomplia or fake pills. Neither they nor their doctors
knew who had received which.
After one year, those on the higher dose had lost an
average of 19 pounds - the same result found in two
smaller studies of the drug reported earlier this year.
The new study went on to test whether staying on the
drug kept people from regaining weight. Those who took
Acomplia during the first year were redivided to either con-
tinue on it or get fake pills for the second year.
At the end of the two years, 62.5 percent of people on
the higher dose had lost 5 percent of their body weight
compared to 36.7 percent on the low dose and 33.2 per-
cent on fake pills.
Waistlines shrank 3.1 inches with the higher dose,
1.9 inches with the lower one and 1.5 inches for those
on fake pills.
HDL or "good" cholesterol rose 24.5 percent on the high-
er dose, 15.6 percent on the lower one and 13.8 percent on
fake pills. Triglycerides also fell according to dose.
"What we have here now is essentially a brand new
mechanism to treat an epidemic of staggering progres-
sion," said Douglas Greene, Sanofi's vice president of
Some people on the drug had nausea, but it usually
was short-lived. Rates of anxiety and depression were
no greater for those on Acomplia than those getting
"There was no evidence this drug over two years had
something we had to worry about in the way of safety,"
Continued from page 1
as $590, Harper said. Combined
with the lack of documentation,
Harper said the government has not
filled its obligation as a trustee.
"The problem is that they have
the powers of a trustee, but not the
concomitant responsibility of the
trustee," he said. "It was the induce-
ment to fraud beyond the capability
Harper said he and the Native
American Rights Fund cracked
down on the trust fund when they
represented Elouise Cobell, a Native
American, in her 1996 suit against
the Department of the Interior.
But the department's contempt
and obstruction of justice hindered
the case, Harper said. The sheer
failures of the trust fund to bring
forth any relevant documentation
and the moral arguments presented
by the Native Americans furthered
the case to its current standpoint, he
Now that the court has ruled in
favor of the fund, the Department of
the Interior has the option to either
abide by the steps outlined by the
court's order to reform the trust
fund, or it can opt to reject the order.
If the department chooses the latter,
Harper said the court would appoint
someone to oversee the trust fund's
One huge hurdle still remains
though, Harper said.
While Harper expects litigation
to finally end around December of
this year, the case also has political
implications that could reverberate
on a national level.
Harper said the result of the rul-
ing would force people using Native
American land to compensate for
what could possibly amount to at
least a total of $10 billion. Yet much
of the Native American land has
been leased by oil, natural gas and
timber companies - for whom the
added payments would be damaging
financial losses. "There are those in
Congress who don't want us to ask
those questions," he added.
For Rackham student Eva Reffel,
the lecture elicited feelings of dis-
gust toward the government's cen-
tury-old failed policies. "I can now
imagine what's pretty much going
on in Interior, in which they are not
willing to allocate any resources to
the Native Americans. ... It's dis-
gustingly short-sighted," she said.
"I feel this is an important case,"
Rackham student Trond Jacksen
said. "It brings into question, what
kind of people do we want to be? Do
we want to be a people of a country
that keeps its word, or do we want to
be a people of a country that breaks
MEXICO CITY (AP) - The chances that the U.S. Congress will over-
haul immigration rules have increased with the end of the political season
and the improvement of security along the U.S.-Mexican border, Secretary
of State Colin Powell said yesterday in Mexico.
But Powell cautioned that approval of the first major immigration chang-
es in 18 years would depend on the new Congress that will take office in
"We don't want to overpromise," Powell told a news conference during
discussions here on a broad range of cross-border issues. Joining Powell
for his 20-hour stay in Mexico were five fellow Cabinet secretaries.
Powell met with Mexican President Vicente Fox, who has made migra-
tion reform in the United States a top foreign policy priority. Fox says the
millions of Mexicans who work in the United States should have legal
status there so they can live without fear of arrest and deportation.
During his discussions, Powell said he reaffirmed President Bush's "plan
to work with our new Congress to develop a temporary worker program to
match willing foreign workers with willing U.S. employers."
The comments suggested the Bush administration was giving priority to
the provision in Bush's proposal that would give workers who still live in
their home countries permission to work in the United States if they have
A more controversial provision - which Powell did not mention -
would allow undocumented aliens already in the United States to achieve
legal status if they can prove they have employment. Beneficiaries could
stay in the United States for three years, then be permitted to remain lon-
ger if certain conditions are met.
Keith Harper, of the Native American Rights Fund, speaks at West Hall
Michigan Head*Pain & Neurological
Institute is conducting an in-clinic research
study evaluating an investigational
Participants must be 18 to 75 years old and
suffer no more than 2-8 headaches per month. A total of three
clinic visits are required. Visit 2 is a three to four hour
treatment visit while having an acute headache. Participants
must be available to come to the clinic during normal business
hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.),
Study-related medical care and reimbursement for time and
travel will be provided. For more infornation, please call a
& Neurological Institute
Joel R. Saper, M.D., EA.C.P, Director
3120 Professional Drive, Ann Arbor, MI
(734) 677-6000, ext. 4
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