Last week the FDA approved 2 new diet drugs to help combat the epidemic worldwide levels of obesity. We reveal why after 13 years the FDA has approved Beliviq and Qsymia (Qnexia). How effective are they and will these prescription drugs be safe?
A number of drugs have sought approval from the FDA in recent years only to be withdrawn. So why after a period of 13 years have no FDA approval been given only to see two new diet drugs given the FDA’s blessing this month? The simple fact is there is a global obesity epidemic that is seen now as a ticking time-bomb.
Health services around the world are feeling the financial pinch not just from the financial crisis but from burdening rise in obesity related health care. The latest global obesity figures report around 35.7% of US adults are obese, with the UK catching up with 26% of UK adults classified as obese.
Both new weight loss drugs will likely be classified as controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) due to their strong ingredients. Whilst both drugs have strong clinical evidence to support their weight loss benefits they are not without side effects and will not suit everyone.
Today obesity is very much considered a disease and carries the increased risk of mild to serious medical conditions. Can Beliviq and Qsymia help combat obesity? Let’s take a look at this diet drugs in more detail.
What is Belviq?
Belviq, pronounced BEL-VEEK, is manufactured by Arena Pharmaceuticals and suggested to be available early in 2013.
The main active ingredient is Lorcaserin that has been shown to activate serotonin receptors in the brain, which may help a person, eat less and feel full after eating smaller amounts of food.
So how effective is Belviq? Clinical trials were conducted on both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects for 52 to 104 weeks and included changes in diet and exercise patterns. Average weight loss in the test group was between 3 and 3.7%, non-diabetic subjects lost on average more weight around 5% of body weight.
According to the FDA press release, the labelling on Belviq recommends that the …
…drug be discontinued in patients who fail to lose 5 percent of their body weight after 12 weeks of treatment, as these patients are unlikely to achieve clinically meaningful weight loss with continued treatment.
There are reported side effects with Lorcaserin but were found to be fairly mild and not too dissimilar to the placebo group during clinical trials. Common side effects found during clinical trials with Belviq in non-diabetic patients included; headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, and constipation, and in diabetic patients are low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), headache, back pain, cough, and fatigue.
The manufacturers still have further trials to undertake with Belviq to further test its safety including a longer-term trial to assess the effect of Belviq on the risk for major adverse cardiac events such as heart attack and stroke.
For more about information about Belviq/Lorcaserin and Arena Pharmaceuticals please visit: http://www.arenapharm.com/lorcaserin.aspx
What is Qsymia?
Qsymia, pronounced kyoo-sim-EE-uh, is manufactured by Vivus Pharmaceuticals and suggested to be available in the 4th quarter of 2012. Qsymia was to originally be called Qnexia before the FDA required a change in its name in order to prevent its confusion with other drugs with similar-sounding names.
Qysmia is a combination of two strong weight loss drugs in an extended-release capsule to be used for…
chronic weight management in adults who are obese, or overweight with at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.
Qysmia will be available in two strengths, the recommended dose of 7.5 milligrams and 46 mg of topiramate extended-release, and for certain patients the higher strength dose of 15 mg and 92 mg of topiramate extended-release.
One of these ingredients you may be familiar with and has not only been available since 1959 when the FDA approved this drug but spurned the production of many over the counter weight loss drugs like diet pills. The popularity of this now controlled drug is because it’s one of the few that work, and the reason why it’s being studied with other medications such as Topiramate.
Weight loss drugs has been shown to suppress appetite by triggering a greater leptin hormone release into the blood stream that has been shown to regulate appetite.
Weight loss drugs are not without risk though, as a number of serious side effects have been experienced by patients and include: chest pain, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, restlessness, dizziness, tremor,insomnia, shortness of breath, dizziness and swelling of the legs and ankles.
Topiramate is an anti-seizure drug and used to treat seizures associated with epilepsy but more frequently used for the prevention of migraines. In terms of weight loss the drug can help reduce appetite.
There are associated side effects with Topiramate that include numbness and tingling, diarrhea, nausea, memory problems and anorexia. Clinical studies have shown that more than 10% of subjects taking Topiramate suffer from such side effects.
Topiramate is an anti-seizure drug and used to treat seizures associated with epilepsy but more frequently used for the prevention of migraines.
The combined effect of these drugs, Qysmia aims to suppress appetite in patients to reduce calorie intake by helping them to feel fuller sooner.
So how effective is Qsymia? Two clinical trials using the recommended and higher dose of Qysmia found that patients had an average weight loss of 6.7 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively. Between 62% and 69% of patients are reported to have lost 5% of their body weight.
Take a look at the official Qysmia website for more details: http://www.qsymia.com/obesity-medicine.aspx
Comparing Beliviq and Qysmia Diet Drugs
The closeness of FDA approval will inevitably led to comparisons being made between the two diet drugs.
Instead of regurgitating information from the WebMD website we would suggest taking a look at their excellent article on the differences and possible suitability of Beliviq and Qysmia.
For a more detailed comparison of Belviq and Qusmia take a look at WebMD:
Polarisation of Society: Body conscious versus Overweight!
With all this discussion about obesity it’s hard to believe that we also live in an age of body obsession! Where fake tan, bigger muscles and bigger boobs are the latest fashion accessories.
It may seem that certain populations are being polarised into two extremes; those obsessed with body image and looking “good” compared to those becoming obese. The fact is this polarisation is becoming exaggerated as the figures for global obesity are truly staggering.
It’s this ticking obesity time-bomb that is pushing the medical community to find a solution and possibly why potentially dangerous diet drugs are being explored!
Prescription Diet Pills the Answer?
Questions are already being asked about the safety of these two diet drugs in the media, real concerns exist as to the risks and potential health implications to consumers when taking them.
It’s clear that both mild to serious side effects are possible from both of these weight loss drugs, which has led to controversy as to their approval. There is also concern in the medical community about the marketing of weight loss diet drugs as highlighted by Dr. Gerard Mullin, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine…
I am concerned that mass marketing of this drug will perpetuate the magic bullet approach to weight loss, which is limiting and does not address the root problem
Dr. Gerard Mullin, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
As is generally accepted by medical and health professionals effectively treating obesity requires a multifaceted approach. Playing a central role is education, in terms of food choices, portion sizes, nutrition and undertaking regular exercise.
As such weight gain is a problem that is not to be ignored but addressed through access to better educational information about food, from improved labelling of foods from the food industry to a better understanding of food portions by the consumer.
Prescription diet pills are not accessible to everyone, and quite rightly so, require consultation with a doctor or health professional. If you are not classified as clinically obese (a BMI above 30) or morbidly obese (a BMI over 40) then it’s unlikely you will be prescribed any diet drugs by your physician. As such if you are looking for diet pills to help weight loss, then non-prescription over the counter ones are the only option.
Are you overweight? Find out using our Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator in the “Do you need to lose weight” section on the right-hand side of our site!
Beliviq and what is now called Qsymia are not currently available for prescription, so don’t go making that doctors appointment just yet! They will be available soon though and we suspect the debate over the effectiveness and safety of these prescription weight loss drugs will surface again and again.
In some cases these diet drugs may be suitable for when extreme weight loss is paramount for safety and ongoing health on an individual. With the possible reluctance for some physicians to prescribe these strong drugs and the lack of availability for the majority of people, it unlikely that these FDA approved diet drugs will have much impact on global obesity figures.
The uptake from consumers may be slow too as for many the side effects will be off putting and other safer solutions will be sought out. Whilst not as strong as prescription diet drugs some over the counter diet pills may offer a part-solution to managing and reducing weight. The consensus amongst health professionals is that diet pills should not be considered the only approach but used in conjunction with a change in eating habits to reduce food portions, eating healthier well balanced meals with regular exercise.
Better still, if you are serious about trying over the counter diet pills ALWAYS OPT for WATCHDOG APPROVED ones to ensure you are getting safe, proven diet pills from reputable manufacturers who offer a guarantee!
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.