Obese patients who took the new weight loss drug Qsymia were more than 70 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to patients who were taking a placebo, according to a late-stage clinical trial.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body does not produce any or enough insulin, causing unstable blood sugar levels. Being overweight significantly increases the risk of developing the disease.
Qsymia was approved last year and became the first weight loss pill to be approved for sale in the United States in 13 years. The drug is intended for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater or people with a BMI of 27 or greater with at least one other weight-related condition. The drug is considered a “lifelong” treatment for obesity.
Vivus, the drug’s maker, conducted a clinical trial with a group of 475 patients who were at high risk of developing diabetes either because they had prediabetes or a group of symptoms called metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure, large waist size, and inability to manage glucose.
Data showed that patients who were given the standard dose of Qsymia were 70.5 less likely to develop diabetes over the course of a year compared to patients given a placebo. Patients who took a larger dose were 78.7 times less likely to develop diabetes compared to the placebo group.
Analysts are calling the results a significant positive for the drug company. Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem in the United States and all over the world. Many people who have diabetes must rely on medication to keep their blood sugar in check and lower their risk of developing serious complications of diabetes including cardiovascular disease, blindness, amputations, and dementia. However, type 2 diabetes treatments can cause problems of their own.
For example, in 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that Actos had been associated with bladder cancer, especially in patients who used the medication long term. New studies also show the drugs Byetta and Januvia increase the risk for pancreatic problems including acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.