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Anti-Drug Abuse Pill Becomes Drug of Choice in Appalachia
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WEST UNION, Ohio - Government authorities and private investigators working for French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Aventis are trying to determine how to stem the flow of the company's latest drug -- rimonabant, or Acomplia -- across the Atlantic and into the hands of drug pushers serving the Appalachian areas of the U.S. "Historically, when a new drug catches the attention of the depressed areas of the east," explained Detective Zach Spye, "It moves very quickly across the nation. That's why we need to move on this one, and fast."

"We're calling it 'hyper-intoxication'."
-- Dr. Mavis Jungers, Addiction Specialist
"It's sickeningly ironic that a drug with such potential to assist those with addictions could itself be so addictive," remarked Dr. Mavis Jungers, of the West Union Clinic for Addictive Disorders, "I had -- have -- such high hopes for this drug, but I'm seeing more and more patients admitting they've been abusing it." When used as directed, the drug acts to block the chemical messengers the brain uses to activate its so-called "reward system". By disrupting this message, the drug takes the enjoyment out of drug abuse. "It's like not smoking at all," said one young man, "I toke and toke, but when I'm on Rimon, I might as well be sucking pixie sticks." The problem, explained Dr. Jungers, is when the patient deviates from the standard regimen. "Merely doubling the dose can bring about a 'high' described as similar to that obtained by concentrating and inhaling metal-flake spray paint," described Jungers, "But crushing and inhaling the drug creates a condition we're calling 'hyper-intoxication', leaving the victim in a barely-conscious stupor for days a time."

Though the company is cooperating with the investigation, it is also quick to point out that there is no solid evidence that abuse is truly taking place. "Firstly, let's remember that this drug is not even approved for sale in the U.S.," said legal counsel Harton Leighm, "So any quantities found have been distributed illegally. Second, the drug is being misused maliciously, not due to any problems with directions and packaging. And I think it's important, as a third point, to note that the people described as abusing the drug are in a 'barely-conscious stupor' for much of their lives, with or without abuse of Acomplia."

"Ungh-hghh-arrr-ullll," said one abuser, three hours after her 'hit', "Looo! Ugh-anshllk-ngugh..."

Early investigations suggest that the drug is being brought in through three primary channels, according to officials close to the investigation, and it is on those channels that authorities will be concentrating in the weeks and months to come.
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