Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New pill helps obese people to shed weight rapidly

Daily Mail: A new pill for obesity helps overweight people shed more than 4lb a week. The drug, Betahistine, is currently used to treat the dizziness disorder vertigo. But an obesity expert in Israel stumbled on the alternative use while looking for a new treatment for his overweight patients.

Now drug company Eli Lilly has become involved and is backing trials being carried out in Canada and America. In the first human trial in Tel Aviv, volunteers shed excess weight at a rate of almost 4lb a week for three months.

Because Betahistine is an existing drug, it is expected to be fast-tracked by British and American drug safety regulators and should become available worldwide for treating obesity in 2009.

About 40 per cent of adults in the UK are overweight, and 20 per cent are obese. This figure is rising, particularly among young adults.
"This drug is significantly more effective at helping people to lose weight then anything else on the market at present," says Dr Ami Eyal, medical director of Obecure, the company developing the pill.

"The great thing is that this drug has been around since the Sixties and there are no significant side-effects from taking it. It has already been used by 130 million people for vertigo - it is licensed in the UK for this - so we know it is safe.

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