The drugmaker made the decision after spending months reviewing trials showing the taranabant obesity pill caused psychiatric side effects. You may recall that a late-stage trial showed the drug didn’t yield the hoped-for weight loss of 5 percent at the 2 mg dose the drugmaker hoped to sell.
The 4 mg dose achieved the desired weight loss but came with a significant catch - the dosage more than doubled instances of psychiatric side effects than a placebo. And even the 2 mg dose proved problematic: nearly twice as many patients taking it removed themselves from the trial, compared with the placebo, citing suicidal thoughts and neurological effects. Remember that the Merck pill is similar to Acomplia, the Sanofi-Aventis fat fighter that failed to win FDA approval over psychiatric side effects, specifically depression and suicide.
And so, John Amatruda, Merck senior vp and head of obesity and diabetes research, issues this statement: "Available Phase III data showed that both efficacy and adverse events were dose related, with greater efficacy and more adverse events in the higher doses. Therefore, after careful consideration, we determined that the overall profile of taranabant does not support further development for obesity."
pic thx to alan cleaver on flickr