Qnexa, an anti-obesity pill that has made FDA approval, has now been proven safe by a panel voting 20-2 on Wednesday, but it could open the door for more drugs that treat people who are overweight.
Drug maker Vivus Inc had been developing Qnexa for over 13 years. The diet pill contains both phentermine and topiramate. Recent case studies saw patients lose 10% of their body weight over a period of a year on average.
However, it had been previously shot down for approval due to the fact it raised safety concerns with it effects on the heart. The pill was found to raise heart rates and causes heart palpitations for some. Those risks though now appear to be low enough to get approval.
But one doctor, who has separately prescribed both phentermine, a diet drug that has been around for 50 years, and topiramate, a seizure medication, believes the drug is still not safe and overrated.
Weight loss expert Dr. Mark Holland MD says, “Phentermine and topiramate are old drugs. They both help people lose weight but the combination is a huge disappointment.”
Dr. Holland continued, “Safety doesn’t appear to be the issue. The problem is that the combination isn’t any more effective than phentermine alone, and worse still, the side effects are really nasty.”
Dr. Holland explained that phentermine will accelerate the heart rate and cause insomnia in some patients, while topiramate will cause, “numbness, tingling in the hands, lips and feet, forgetfulness, drowsiness and foggy thinking”.
“Qnexa is a dud.” Concludes Dr. Holland
However, there are others that disagree with Dr. Holland.
“There is an urgent need for better pharmacologic options for individual patients with obesity,” said Dr. Elaine Morrato, of the University of Colorado. “I believe Qnexa demonstrated a meaningful efficacy benefit and that there are consequences to not treating obesity.”