FDA Panel Backs New Weight-Loss Drug: Is It Worth the Risk?
Welcome back to FitChatter! This week in the news, something much less disgusting than last week: an FDA panel has decided to back the new weight-loss drug Qnexa. But do its benefits outweigh the risk of heart problems and birth defects?
How much would you risk in order to drop a few pounds?
The FDA seems to think weight loss is worth risking potential heart problems and birth defects. This week, despite rejecting it a couple years ago, a panel of health advisers recommended that the FDA approve new weight-loss drug Qnexa. Doesn’t sound like a big deal? Consider that the last time the FDA approved a new obesity drug was all the way back in 1999.
It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that obesity is a huge problem for this country. But is a new drug really the answer? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Qnexa patients reported an average of 14% body-weight loss. This is, of course, the purpose of the drug – so it’s good to know that it at least works. Studies have shown that losing 10% of your body weight (if you’re overweight, of course) can produce some striking health benefits, such as better blood pressure and blood sugar.
It comes with some positive side effects. Aside from the obvious benefits, Qnexa patients also showed an increase in good (HDL) cholesterol and a decrease in bad (LDL) cholesterol. As another plus, they also had a lower incidence of new onset diabetes.
It’s no cure. Unsurprisingly, patients who stopped taking the drug subsequently re-gained their weight – meaning this drug would probably have to be taken long-term. But most important of all:
It comes with some negative side effects. Most chemical drugs on the market come with some questionable side effects, and Qnexa is no different. Patients reported higher heart rates, though it is as of yet unclear if this will increase the risk of heart attacks. Also potentially problematic is the fact that one of the ingredients has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects. Because of this, the company plans to allow its use only in women who are not pregnant.
Considering the prevalence of obesity (roughly 1 in 3 Americans), if the FDA follows the recommendations of their panel of experts as expected, this drug could become as much a household name as Adderall or Prozac. So it’s important to ask: will we look back on this change as the turning point in the fight against obesity? Or will we just look back on this as trading one set of side effects (diabetes and high blood pressure) for another (high heart rate and birth defects)?
What do you think? Sound off in the comments!