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The decline and fall of the cannabinoid antagonists

Another promising line of pharmacological research bites the dust in the wake of market fallout. Death to the anti-pot. Long live pot!

Cannabinoid Receptor, Type 1 (CB1) antagonists were supposed to be the next big thing. They're weight loss drugs, and with obesity rates rising and the diet craze showing no signs of abating, that's a large and growing market (...sorry). They worked, at least in the short term, and they were at least as effective as existing pills...

But it ended in tears, literally. Rimonabant was pulled from the European market in late 2008; it was never approved in the USA at all. After rimonabant was withdrawn, drug companies abandoned the development of other CB1 antagonists.

The problem was that they made people depressed. In several large clinical trials of rimonabant it raised the risk of suffering depression and other psychiatric problems, like anxiety and irritability, compared to placebo. The reported rates of these symptoms ranged from a few % up to over 40% depending upon the population, but there have been no trials (except very small ones) in which these effects weren't seen. This means that CB1 antagonists cause depression rather more consistently than antidepressants treat it...

There were side effects. Alongside things like nausea, vomiting, and sweating, about 35% of people taking high doses of taranabant reported "psychiatric disorders". 20% of people on placebo also did, so this is not quite as bad as it first appears, but it's still striking, especially since a number of people on high doses of taranabant reported suicidal thoughts or behaviours...

Yes, people who take the anti-pot (cannabinoid antagonists) feel depressed and want to kill themselves. But at least they lose weight; call it the anti-munchies. Designer cannabinoids may be an untapped market, but anti-cannabis just seems wrong. This smelled like a bad idea from the start.

[Thanks Jonathan!]

Posted By jamesk at 2010-03-05 22:07:50 permalink | comments
Tags: rimonabant
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Matt C. : 2010-03-06 17:07:14
I wonder if what I was taking had something like a CB1 antagonist in it. It worked, I lost weight but I just wasn't very happy on it. Well I'm done with it now. Living healthy and hoping to god my body heals from all the shit I've put it through. Haha this has little to do with the topic. PEACE!!!

Don't hate me for making stupid posts. We've all done it.

jamesk : 2010-03-06 13:10:25
Johnathan, as always the way you think scares me, but I like it!
Johnathan. : 2010-03-06 00:31:07
Yeah, but think of it his way: take a CB1 antagonist long enough to let your receptors upregulate to compensate...boom, now your pot has uber-potency :-)

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