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Another Weight Loss Drug Bites the Dust

Weight-loss drug candidates are dropping like flies in front of FDA advisory panels, and what started out as a promising year for pharmaceutical companies and dieters alike has rapidly taken a turn for the worse. Three brand new weight loss drugs were scheduled for review in the second half of this year and two of the three have now bitten the dust.
In July an FDA advisory committee voted 9-7 to reject Vivus’s application to approve Qnexa, citing concerns over side effects. Qnexa is a mixture of two existing drugs, an anticonvulsant (topiramate) and an amphetamine (phentermine). Topiramate has the effect of leaving the user fuller and more satisfied, while the phentermine curbs appetite. Many thought that the success of the drug might weigh heavily in favor of approval, given that test subjects lost 13 to 15 percent of their body weight in the trials. Such was not the case.
Today, the same FDA advisory committee voted 9-5 against Arena Pharmaceuticals Lorcaserin. Lorcaserin differs from Qnexa in composition. This weight loss drug acts on serotonin, a brain chemical associated with feelings of well-being and satiation. Lorcaserin has less side effects than Qnexa, but weight loss in studies only ranged between 5 and 10 percent. The study cited their concerns over tumors that developed in rats that could indicate a risk of cancer in humans.
The last hope is Contrave by Orexigen Therapeutics Inc. Contrave—like Qnexa—is a mixture of an anticonvulsant and an amphetamine but in different dosages. In studies it has shown weight loss between 5 percent and 10 percent, with side effects such as nausea.
If you are looking for a weight loss plan that does not include prescription weight loss medication, visit the HealthNews diet pages and test out our Individual Diet Selection tool, which can help find the right diet for you lifestyle.  


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