An experimental diet pill is one step closer to becoming available for people who are obese or overweight with conditions such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel recommended the approval of Qnexa If the FDA follows the advice of the panel, as it most often does, then Qnexa will be the first weight loss treatment approved by the FDA in 13 years.
The drug was reviewed by the FDA’s endocrinologic and metabolic drugs advisory committee, which voted 20-2 to recommend the drug’s approval. The vote was based on clinical trials that showed Qnexa led to an average loss of about 10 percent of total body weight in the first year.
Another plus is that in studies Qnexa showed significantly improved blood sugar control through weight loss in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects more than 23 million people in the United States and many rely on medication to keep their blood sugar levels in check. These medications are often risky. For example, the FDA recently issued a warning on top-selling diabetes drug Actos after studies linked the drug to bladder cancer.
Qnexa may look promising, but there are concerns surrounding the new diet pill. Qnexa is a combination of two already approved drugs – the anticonvulsant drug tropiramate and the appetite suppressant phentermine. The advisory panel raised concerns because tropiramate has been linked to birth defects; and phentermine, the “less dangerous” part of the now-banned Fen-Phen cocktail, has been linked to heart problems.
For now, the agency said the benefits of Qnexa outweigh the risks.
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