French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis has launched its obesity drug Acomplia in Ireland, its third world market after the UK and Germany.

Acomplia (rimonabant) is the first in a new class targeting cardiometabolic risk factors such as abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, cholesterol and elevated triglycerides. It works by selectively blocking CB1 receptors in the brain and other organs that play an important role in glucose and fat metabolism.

The French firm noted that Acomplia is licensed in Ireland for use as an adjunct to diet and exercise for the treatment of obese patients (body mass index greater than or equal to 30kg/m2), or overweight patients (BMI >27kg/m2) with associated risk factors, such as type 2 diabetes or dyslipidaemia.

Over a quarter of Irish men (25.9%) and a fifth of Irish women (22.9%) can be classified as clinically obese, said Sanofi.

Sanofi has said it expects Acomplia to become a blockbuster product with peak revenues of $3 billion or more, and it made the first contribution in the third quarter, adding 11 million euros in sales to the company’s coffers. However, its future remains somewhat uncertain as government advisors in Germany have said the country’s healthcare system should not reimburse treatment with the drug, while its development in the USA has been held back by a request for more information by the Food and Drug Administration.

The German government has three months to consider the advisors’ proposal.

Meanwhile, new evidence on the value of the medicine continues to grow, and results from the SERENADE trial looking at its ability to improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics, due to be unveiled next month, are expected to be positive.