With the anti-obesity drug Rimonabant, the farmaceutical industry had a breakthrough to report a few years back. For a moment the veil was lifted from an industry that is usually not keen on showing the tricks of the trade. On assignment for the magazine NRC-M these photo's were made at the company Sanofi-Aventis in Montpellier, France in 2007. They show the process of development and testing a new drug. Under the name Acomplia, the drug was available on the European market for more than a year, but it is no longer allowed.

With the anti-obesity drug Rimonabant, the farmaceutical industry had a breakthrough to report a few years back. For a moment the veil was lifted from an industry that is usually not keen on showing the tricks of the trade. On assignment for the magazine NRC-M these photo's were made at the company Sanofi-Aventis in Montpellier, France in 2007. They show the process of development and testing a new drug. Under the name Acomplia, the drug was available on the European market for more than a year, but it is no longer allowed.

A beaker with the pure active substance for anti-obesity drug Rimonabant. The molecule was discovered in the laboratory of Sanofi Aventis in Montpellier around 1993. Since then refinements of the production method of the substance have taken years before the drug could be tested on animals and later humans.

A beaker with the pure active substance for anti-obesity drug Rimonabant. The molecule was discovered in the laboratory of Sanofi Aventis in Montpellier around 1993. Since then refinements of the production method of the substance have taken years before the drug could be tested on animals and later humans.

Surgery-tools for applying a probe in the brains of a test-rat. For research of the effects of Rimonabant-like substances on a rat addicted to nicotine. The company continues researching and testing rimonabant-like molecules to widen the range of illnesses the medicin can cure.

Surgery-tools for applying a probe in the brains of a test-rat. For research of the effects of Rimonabant-like substances on a rat addicted to nicotine. The company continues researching and testing rimonabant-like molecules to widen the range of illnesses the medicin can cure.

Several Erlenmeyer bottles with written on them the chemical structure of purified substances or half-products. It is the workplace of one of the inventors of Rimonabant, Serge Martinez, who continues his research on Rimonabant-like molecules.

Several Erlenmeyer bottles with written on them the chemical structure of purified substances or half-products. It is the workplace of one of the inventors of Rimonabant, Serge Martinez, who continues his research on Rimonabant-like molecules.

Trays with bottles and tubes containing different chemical substances. The Compound Control Centre is a treasure-chest with about 1.5 million different substances that were made over the last 40 years for various reasons. Nowadays, the search for active substances like Rimonabant starts by robots examining thousands of those substances for their effects. On substances that show promising results, research is continued by hand.

Trays with bottles and tubes containing different chemical substances. The Compound Control Centre is a treasure-chest with about 1.5 million different substances that were made over the last 40 years for various reasons. Nowadays, the search for active substances like Rimonabant starts by robots examining thousands of those substances for their effects. On substances that show promising results, research is continued by hand.

A bag with strips of the new anti-obesity drug Rimonabant. The pills have a typical one-cornered shape. The strips are shipped alongside identical placedbo-pills to hospitals worldwide for conducting the clinical trials necessary for approval by EMEA (European Union) and FDA (USA). The medicine was not approved because the positive effects did not outweigh the side-effects.

A bag with strips of the new anti-obesity drug Rimonabant. The pills have a typical one-cornered shape. The strips are shipped alongside identical placedbo-pills to hospitals worldwide for conducting the clinical trials necessary for approval by EMEA (European Union) and FDA (USA). The medicine was not approved because the positive effects did not outweigh the side-effects.

Control-centre of a testing-plant where the process of creating substances like Rimonabant happens at a few scales higher than on the laboratory-bench. A number of these 'upscales' first lead to sufficient amounts to conduct animaltests and clinical trials. Eventually a factory will reach the scale where it can produce industrial amount for when the medicine reaches the market.

Control-centre of a testing-plant where the process of creating substances like Rimonabant happens at a few scales higher than on the laboratory-bench. A number of these 'upscales' first lead to sufficient amounts to conduct animaltests and clinical trials. Eventually a factory will reach the scale where it can produce industrial amount for when the medicine reaches the market.

Setup in the pilot-factory of the company where the new anti-obesity drug Rimonabant was produced. Scaling up the laboratory handwork of the inventors of a new molecule is very complicated. Each half-product and each step in the process must be reproduced exactly in a way that is controllable and yields usable amounts.

Setup in the pilot-factory of the company where the new anti-obesity drug Rimonabant was produced. Scaling up the laboratory handwork of the inventors of a new molecule is very complicated. Each half-product and each step in the process must be reproduced exactly in a way that is controllable and yields usable amounts.

Setup in the pilot-factory of the company where the new anti-obesity drug Rimonabant/Acomplia was produced in quantities large enough to conduct clinical trials. These trials are the last step before a drug can be approved to enter the market. Although the European EMEA initially approved the new drug, it later retracted when side-effects proved to be more severe than at first reported.

Setup in the pilot-factory of the company where the new anti-obesity drug Rimonabant/Acomplia was produced in quantities large enough to conduct clinical trials. These trials are the last step before a drug can be approved to enter the market. Although the European EMEA initially approved the new drug, it later retracted when side-effects proved to be more severe than at first reported.