Fen-Phen problems weigh heavy: Docs wary of diet pills
Despite the Food and Drug Administration's approval of two new diet drugs, Mississippi doctors are wary of prescribing them.
Belviq and Qsymia (pronounced kyoo-SIM-ee-uh and formerly known as Qnexa) are the first diet drugs in more than a decade to be approved by the FDA. However, "it's a general rule that most doctors don't use a new drug until there's a year experience with it," said Dr. Richard deShazo, professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Belviq and Qsymia work by suppressing appetite. Both drugs cater only to people who are obese (with a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or above) or who are overweight (with a BMI of 27 or above) and also have at least one weight-related health condition such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. In Mississippi, seven of 10 adults are overweight or obese.
Qsymia, considered the more effective drug, is a combination of two FDA-approved drugs, phentermine and topiramate. Phentermine is used for short-term weight loss in overweight or obese adults who are exercising and eating a reduced calorie diet. Topiramate is used to treat certain types of seizures in people who have epilepsy and to prevent migraine headaches.
"Qsymia, used responsibly in combination with a healthy lifestyle that includes a reduced-calorie diet and exercise, provides another treatment option for chronic weight management in Americans who are obese or who are overweight and have at least one weight-related comorbid condition," said Dr. Janet Woodock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Clinical trial results show patients on Qsymia went from an average 227 pounds to 204 pounds. On Belviq, the average weight dropped from 220 to 207, said Dr. Randy Easterling of River Region Health Center in Vicksburg.
"However, (Qsymia) is not effective without people changing their lifestyle," Easterling said. "I've told my patients if there was a pill that would make you skinny, nobody would be fat."