Everyone knows that it's the pharmaceutical industry's job to come up with new products to cure what ails us. From Pfizer's (NYSE:PFE) Lipitor to Eli Lilly's (NYSE:LLY) Cialis, drugmakers have done a remarkable job of zeroing in on problems and finding treatments for them. It's not too often, though, that pharmaceutical outfits develop medicine that addresses multiple conditions at once.

Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY), though, may have done just that.

The company intends to ask the Food and Drug Administration for approval to sell the drug rimonabant, which it plans to call Acomplia, within the next few months, the Associated Press reports. Sanofi-Aventis says that the drug allowed patients who took it for more than two years in trials to lose an average of 16 pounds. What's more, most of the weight patients lost in the first year, they kept off.

Of course, pharmaceutical outfits have ventured into the weight-loss field before, and it hasn't always been pretty. Wyeth (NYSE:WYE), for instance, is still working to pay off the liability associated with the cardiovascular side effects of its fen-phen diet medication. Diet drugs on the market, meanwhile, are typically sold only for short-term use.

However, the way Acomplia works distinguishes it from other treatments. The medicine, known as a cannabinoid type 1 receptor antagonist, acts by blocking the sensation of pleasure one receives from the brain when eating. This unique mechanism of action may mean that the drug has applications in a variety of other areas, including those associated with addiction.

Sanofi already has evidence that Acomplia may be useful in treating nicotine addiction, and researchers are also interested in the medicine for potential use in alcoholism and other drug dependencies. In other words, Acomplia may be a regular "vice-be-gone."

Of course, given the recent eruption of problems with drugs already on the market, a new, more cautious FDA may take its time approving Acomplia. Still, with its potentially broad spectrum of use, Acomplia may worth the wait.

For related coverage, read Wyeth Keeps Producing.

Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.