Commentary

Psychopharmacology

, Volume 205, Issue 1, pp 171-174

First online:

The future of endocannabinoid-oriented clinical research after CB1 antagonists

  • Bernard Le FollAffiliated withTranslational Addiction Research Laboratory, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto Email author 
  • , David A. GorelickAffiliated withOffice of the Scientific Director, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services
  • , Steven R. GoldbergAffiliated withPreclinical Pharmacology Section, Behavioral Neuroscience Research Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services

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Abstract

Introduction

Great interest has been shown by the medical community and the public in the cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonists, such as rimonabant, for treatment of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and possibly drug addiction.

Discussion

This novel class of drug has therapeutic potential for other disorders, as the endocannabinoid system is involved in various health conditions. However, rimonabant, the first clinically available member of this class of drugs, has been linked to increased risk of anxiety, depression, and suicidality. Due to those risks, the European Medicines Agency called for its withdrawal from the market in October, 2008. Shortly after this decision, several pharmaceutical companies (Sanofi-aventis, Merck, Pfizer, Solvay) announced that they would stop further clinical research on this class of drug. Here, we provide an overview of those events and make several suggestions for continuing such clinical research, while safeguarding the safety of patients and clinical trial subjects.

Keywords

Rimonabant CB1 receptor antagonist Pharmacotherapy Safety Drug dependence Addiction Obesity