A check to determine whether or not a person is genetically predisposed to react badly to a weight-loss drug before they take it may have saved their lives, a researcher in the US has claimed.
Acomplia, produced by Sanofi-Aventis, had to be withdrawn because people taking part in a trial of the drug started killing themselves. A scientist in California reckons if these people were identified using genetic testing before they became depressed or suicidal, the drug would still be getting used.
A trial of Acomplia ended in 2008 after five of the participants committed suicide. Partial results from the study showed that Acomplia, whose generic name is rimonabant, raised the risk of negative psychiatric side effects.
The drug blocks the brain’s reward receptors and can cause severe depression and anxiety in some people.
Eric Topol, who works at Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California, said: “Finding the gene for severe adverse drug reactions is a lot easier than we ever thought it would be.”
The study findings are published in the latest edition of the Lancet.
Copyright Press Association 2010