New weight loss drug could benefit diabetics

byetta “It's something you constantly have to be diligent with,” said Pat Costello, a diabetic referring to her blood sugar levels.

Ten years ago Costello was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and with that, came changes in her lifestyle including diet, exercise and a series of medications. This regimen includes Byetta, an injectable drug which has been shown to lower blood sugar and also leads to weight loss. Now new research shows how another drug called Rimonabant, has similar effects, but is taken orally.

“This study that was just released shows that diabetes is helped by this drug, but not only is diabetes helped there is weight loss, there is decreased in abdominal waistline measurements, there is improvement in the good cholesterol level in raising the HDL, and there is lowering of cholesterol in general,” explained Dr. Stuart Weiss, an endocrinologist affiliated with New York University Medical Center.

Riminobant, marketed as Acomplia, is prescribed in Europe as an aid to weight loss; however, in the U.S., it is still pending Food and Drug Administration approval.

This new research, which was presented this month at the International Diabetes Conference, shows how Rimonabant can also benefit diabetics. The drug’s maker, Sanofi Avantis, sponsored the study which tested the drug over a six-month period to determine its effects on blood sugar in diabetics, and also evaluated its effects on body weight.

“Because obesity is related to diabetes, to the greater part there was a thinking that this drug could be tried out on diabetics,” said Weiss.

Weiss, who was not personally involved with the study, welcomes these findings and calls them exciting. But he says more research is needed to determine if Rimonabant is effective in the long run and in diabetics who have received prior medications.

“These were drug-naïve patients,” said Weiss. “These were people who were not being treated by anything at all, coming into the study. They were failed diet and exercise patients, so you can't really say what this study is showing us is that this drug will be effective in use in combination or as an add on to other medications that we are already using.”

Despite an increase in treatment options, experts say key elements in managing diabetes remain a healthy lifestyle and an understanding of the disease. For more information, visit the American Diabetes Association website at