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Sanofi Weight-Loss Drug Also Helps With Diabetes, Study Says

Sanofi-Aventis may have what analysts believe could be the next multi-billion dollar weight-loss drug, CNBC's Mike Huckman reports.

Data just released by the International Diabetes Federation says Sanofi's drug Acomplia not only curb's people's appetites but also helps with diabetes.

Acomplia is already approved in more than half a dozen countries but still waiting for approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Most analysts think it could get approved in the first half of the year.

The drug works on the cannabanoid receptors in the brain, Huckman says--which as the name might suggest, are the things that give pot smokers the munchies.

But this study shows it could do much more than curb peoples' appetite--and specifically help address the burgeoning diabetes epidemic.

Researchers are reporting that in this six-month clincal trial involving nearly 300 people, blood sugar levels in two different sets of patients dropped significantly. They also shed nearly 15 pounds versus six pounds on those who got the placebo.

And in more than half the patients the blood sugar drop was independent of the weight loss.

The test shows a 10% increase in HDL--so-called "good" cholesterol--versus a 3% rise for those who took the dummy pill.

And triglyceride levels--or bad fats in the blood--fell more than 16%--nearly four times the decrease seen in the placebo group.

Doctor Gbola Amusa, European pharma analyst at Sanford Bernstein, calls these very positive results. He says they show Acomplia is also a diabetes drug and--most importantly--that could mean insurance might pay for it.

Sanofi submitted a response to the FDA in October to a request for more undisclosed information on Acomplia.

More of the Acomplia patients than placebo patients in this study got dizzy nauseous anxious and depressed, Huckman reports. And almost 10% of them quit the study versus 2% dropout rate among placebo patients.