An Old Drug With A New Purpose

Almost 40 years ago, a vertigo drug called Betahistine was taken off the U.S. market when the FDA began demanding more clinical trials on all medications and the manufacturer simply didn't comply. Fast-forward to the new century, and an Israeli physician has discovered there may be a reason to bring its formula back.

Nir Barak knew that blocking the brain's histamine-1 receptor causes weight gain, and that stimulating it should do the opposite. He found that Betahistine had this function and that it was inherently safe.

His company, Obecure, conducted double-blind clinical trials and, as the August issue of Business 2.0 reports, the unofficial results are impressive: participants lost up to 12% of their body weight with no side effects. They simply didn't crave food as much-especially fatty foods.

This wouldn't be the first time a drug with one purpose has been redirected for another. The ulcer medication known as Tagamet would cause unwanted hair growth in its users, but it would cause very-much-wanted hair growth in what would become Rogaine users.