Saturday, March 3, 2012

A New Diet Drug

The FDA is poised to approve the first new diet drug in 13 years, called Qnexa. Approval could come as early as next month.

Clinical studies show that Qnexa is effective in helping a person lose a modest amount of weight. But before you get too excited about it, you should know that Qnexa is just a combination of two older drugs; phentermine and topiramate. Phentermine is an appetite suppressant related to amphetamines. It was one of the two drugs in a diet pill that was eventually pulled from the market because of side effects. (Remember the Fen-Phen craze? Well, this is the -Phen.) Topiramate is a drug which is used to prevent seizures and debilitating migraines, but it just so happens to suppress appetite as well. Both have a number of side effects, but topiramate is of particular concern because it increases the risk of birth defects (cleft lip and cleft palate).

Qnexa was rejected by the FDA back in 2010; it was finally approved this time around in part because the company promised to restrict the use of the drug in pregnant women. In addition, the manufacturer argued that the obesity epidemic is causing such a massive increase in medical problems that the drug’s usefulness would far outweigh its known risks.

Medical experts seem decidedly cool on this drug, however. Read the comments of five experts here. The bottom line is that while there is likely to be a lot of buzz about Qnexa among dieters at first, in the long run it may end up being just another failed diet drug. There still is no magic bullet.

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