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Warning issued over weight drug

Patients who are taking antidepressants should not be prescribed a weight-loss drug already used by thousands of people in the UK, a European health watchdog has warned.

According to the ruling by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), Acomplia (rimonabant) should not be given to those who are already using drugs to treat depression.

The medication, which is made by Sanofi-aventis, has been prescribed to around 41,000 patients in the UK since it was approved in June last year.

It is currently being evaluated by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which is considering whether to make it available on the NHS.

Because it already has a European licence, GPs can prescribe it to patients while they wait for NICE to issue its ruling.

Responding to the EMEA's decision, Sanofi-aventis said Acomplia's labels have already  been amended to echo the ruling.

In a statement the company said: "With this updated labelling, Acomplia is now contraindicated in patients with ongoing major depressive illness and/or ongoing antidepressive treatment."

The drug targets a natural body system that governs a host of factors controlling appetite, weight, metabolism and energy use.

In trials involving more than 6,000 patients in the US and Europe, around a quarter of those taking the drug lost more than 10% of their initial body weight after a year, while about half lost more than 5% over the same period.



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