Lose the habit without gaining the
New anti-smoking medication may also
prevent weight gain
BOSTON - September 10, 2004 - Kicking the smoking habit is
not only difficult, but also intimidating to smokers who fear that
while shedding a bad habit, they'll end up packing on unwanted pounds.
But there may be a way to avoid the extra weight. Researchers at
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) are participating in a national
clinical trial for a new smoking cessation medication called rimonabant.
"Rimonabant differs fundamentally from any drug currently available
to help smokers quit," says Nancy Rigotti, MD, director of
the MGH Tobacco
Research and Treatment Center. "The drug appears to act
in the brain on pathways that play a role in reward and the regulation
of food intake. These systems are disrupted by tobacco use, and
rimonabant may help to correct the imbalance."
Research presented at the March 2004 American College of Cardiology
annual meeting suggests that rimonabant may have a distinctive dual
effect that could prove critical in helping patients to quit smoking
while reducing the chance of weight gain. In that study, rimonabant
doubled the odds of quitting smoking and prevented most or all of
the typical weight gain that occurs after quitting smoking. Of those
who completed the study, 36.2 percent of participants treated with
rimonabant quit smoking, compared with 20.6 percent of those with
placebo. On average, patients lost just over half a pound on rimonabant
while patients on placebo had an average weight gain of 2.4 pounds.
"Fear of weight gain keeps people from trying to quit and interferes
with the success of smokers who try. We really need an approach
that will address both quitting and the weight gain," says
Rigotti. Rimonabant differs from all currently available smoking
cessation treatments. Unlike the patch or gum, it is not nicotine
replacement, and unlike bupropion (Zyban), it is not an antidepressant.
Enrollment in the randomized clinical trial at MGH has just begun.
Volunteers must be healthy, over age 18, smoke at least 15 cigarettes
per day over the last two months, and motivated to stop smoking.
Sanofi-Synthelabo, the manufacturer of rimonabant, funds the research.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved marketing
for the drug.
People in the New England area who meet the study
criteria and wish to participate in the study should call (617)
Massachusetts General Hospital, established in 1811, is the original
and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH
conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United
States, with an annual research budget of more than $400 million
and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer,
cutaneous biology, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders,
transplantation biology and photomedicine. In 1994, MGH and Brigham
and Women's Hospital joined to form Partners HealthCare System,
an integrated health care delivery system comprising the two academic
medical centers, specialty and community hospitals, a network of
physician groups, and nonacute and home health services.
Media Contact: Donita
Boddie , MGH Public Affairs
Physician Referral Service: 1-800-388-4644
Information about Clinical Trials