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Acomplia wins approval..

acomplia    PARIS, March 26 (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis  said on Wednesday that its troubled obesity-fighting product Acomplia had won approval from Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Sanofi, the world's third-biggest drugmaker, said NICE had recommended that Acomplia should be made available for the management of obese and overweight patients on the UK's state-run National Health Service.

The move is a small positive for a medicine that has failed to live up to expectations and had total sales of only 79 million euros ($123 million) last year, analysts said.

The UK decision contrasts with Germany where Acomplia is not reimbursed by health insurers because it is deemed simply to improve lifestyle.

The British government has made fighting obesity, particularly among young people, one of its key priorities.

In January, official British health data showed that obesity drug prescriptions had soared in the country, and health minister Alan Johnson said the UK faced an obesity crisis.

Acomplia was once touted as a multibillion-dollar seller, but hopes for the product dimmed last year when a U.S. expert panel recommended against its approval in the world's biggest market, after it was linked to rare cases of suicidal thoughts.

Sanofi said in October it expected only limited sales of the drug in the next few years, until new clinical trial results were ready for submission to regulators in 2009.

Update: Acomplia has been withdrawn from the market. The only current prescription medication for weight-loss is now xenical


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