The Skinny on Newly Approved Obesity Drugs
Take a look at the side effects!
Your hormonal weight gain does not require dangerous drugs!
Take a look at the side effects!
Your hormonal weig h t gain does not require dangerous drugs!
The FDA recently announced the approval of two new weight loss drugs for obese adults - Belviq by Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Qsymia by Vivus Inc. Both drugs have undergone a torturous path to approval because of concerns about their safety or effectiveness.
The approval of these new drugs is due to a nationwide epidemic of obesity. More than one-third of American adults are obese; thus the FDA essentially acknowledged that diet, exercise and surgery are not working.
"Obesity is such a huge problem, because it leads to so many other problems: coronary disease, arthritis, diabetes, and depression”, said Dr. Rajesh Gulati, a clinical professor at UC Irvine's School of Medicine and the medical director at the university's Weight Management Program.
"Our health-care bills are going through the roof. If somebody is able to produce that magic pill, that guy is going to turn into a billionaire overnight. That is the motivating thing that keeps these companies producing these drugs." And ALL drugs have some negative side effects.
However, neither Belviq nor Qsymia is a magic weight loss pill. In fact, both have side effects severe enough that the FDA initially rejected them. Although clinical trials have shown they're effective at helping people lose weight, they are not without serious side effects including:
- Unusual thoughts or behavior
- Feelings of standing next to yourself or being outside of your body
- Thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself
- Rapid heart rate
- Overactive reflexes
- Loss of coordination
- Very stiff (rigid) muscles
- High fever
- Fast or uneven heartbeats
- Feeling like you might pass out
- Trouble breathing
- Slow heart rate
- Swelling in your hands or feet
- Trouble concentrating
- Body aches / Flu Symptoms
- Sores in your mouth and throat
- Low blood pressure
- Breast swelling (in women or men)
- Nipple discharge
WOW! That’s an incredible list of side effects. But, as we all know, drugs are foreign to the body and while they may help in one area, they can be harmful in many, many other areas.
Belviq (chemical name: lorcaserin) is made by San Diego-based Arena Pharmaceuticals and marketed by Japan's Eisai Inc. It was approved by the FDA on June 27, 2012, but an agency advisory panel had rejected it in 2010 because of safety concerns.
The most common side effect is headache, which occurred in about 18 percent of patients in clinical trials, compared to 11 percent with a placebo. But a larger concern is the same kind of heart-valve problems that plagued fenfluramine. The drug can also cause hallucinations if taken in higher dosages than prescribed.
The federal Drug Enforcement Agency classified the drug as a Schedule IV controlled substance, same as Qsymia. That means there's only a slight risk of abuse. But the concern over the drug's "hallucinogenic properties" delayed its approval.
How does Belviq work?
It works by activating the serotonin receptors in the brain which help you feel full after eating smaller amounts of food. Therefore the end result is that you will eat less.
"The way we went about it is the recognition that serotonin is a very important hormonal system, one of the few mechanisms that can overcome this drive," said Dominic Behan, co-founder of Arena and the company's chief scientific officer.
Did you know…You can boost your serotonin levels naturally with 5-HTP! It is the precursor to serotonin and is a safe and natural alternative to the synthetic drugs.
Don’t let it touch YOUR family!! 5-HTP can be YOUR weight loss pill.
Qsymia is a combination of phentermine (the supposedly safer "phen" component of fen-phen) and topiramate, an anti-seizure medication that also promotes weight loss. It's made by Mountain View-based pharmaceutical Vivus, and was approved by the FDA on July 17, 2012 (3 weeks after Belvik). Anti-seizure medication? Really!
How does Qsymia work?
The two drugs acting together suppress appetite. But again this drug is not without harmful side effects including:
- Birth defects
- Increase in Heart Rate
- Suicidal Behavior and Ideation
- Acute Myopia and Glaucoma
- Mood and Sleep Disorders
- Cognitive Impairment: May cause disturbances in attention or memory
It also cautions patients about operating automobiles or hazardous machinery when starting treatment.
Yikes! The good news is that there are safer, all-natural alternatives that suppress appetite – PGX Daily Granules, 5-HTP or L-Tyrosine work in the same manner but without the debilitating side effects.
A SKETCHY PAST
Weight-loss aids have been around for generations, and in the 1950s, amphetamines became the rage because they sped up metabolism and produced weight loss. They also caused heart problems and created addicts.
In 1973, the FDA-approved drug fenfluramine was introduced in the United States and sold under the brand names Pondimin, Ponderax and Adifax. This drug also increased the level of serotonin, a feel-good chemical, producing a sensation of fullness. The initial problem was the effects didn't last. In the 1990s, the drug company American Home Products (which later became Wyeth) combined fenfluramine with phentermine, an appetite suppressant, and a new product, fen-phen, was born.
Fen-phen was the hot weight-loss drug of the day. Thousands of people shed pounds with it. But gradually, reports started coming in about elevated hypertension readings and later damage to heart valves. In a much-publicized case, Mary J. Linnen, 30, of Quincy, Mass., became ill only 24 days after taking fen-phen in the spring of 1996. She had been trying to lose weight so she could fit into just the right wedding dress. She died of heart problems on Feb. 22, 1997.
Ultimately, the drug was pulled from the market in September 1997, and the company settled thousands of lawsuits for $3.75 billion.
Others have come and gone: Sibutramine, marketed as Meridia, was withdrawn in 2010 because of high incidence of cardiovascular problems and strokes. Orlistat, marketed as Xenical (and in an over-the-counter version called Alli), was the last weight-loss drug approved by the FDA before the two new ones. It works in a different way, blocking the absorption of fats. But its distasteful side effects, including oily stools, make it unpalatable to many users.
In 2010 (last year full studies data is available), there was not one death reported as the result of taking nutritional supplements. 38,000 people died from pharmaceutical drugs and 450,000 had a medical related adverse event. Death by medicine is a 21st-century epidemic.
Please consider taking the alternative medicine route of natural supplements.
Some information from an article in the Orange County Register - July 4, 2013