Charleston area residents are needed for a research study of the safety and effectiveness of an experimental weight-loss drug that has yielded promising results in about half of the people who tried it.

The drug, Contrave, is designed to reduce appetite, increase metabolism and control cravings and overeating. It is taken in pill form.

Individuals may qualify for the study if they are men age 45 or older or women age 50 or older who need to lose weight and have a cardiovascular risk factor such as heart disease or type 2 I diabetes. In addition to Contrave, those selected will receive a comprehensive weight management program called WeightMate.

The effectiveness of Contrave used with a weight management program has been tested in more than 4,500 people so far. Those who took the drug for six months lost an average of 25 pounds compared to average weight loss of 17 pounds in people who took a placebo.

In addition, improved cholesterol numbers and blood sugar levels were reported, says Orexigen, the drug manufacturer.

Further information on applying to participate in the study is available at: Coastal Carolina Research Center, www.coastalcarolinaresearch.com; the Medical University, mortonsc@musc.edu; Medical Research South, www.researchsouth.com/contact/patientinformation.php; PMG Research, www.pmg-research.com/participant-info/index.aspx.