The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new weight loss drug, but there's some controversy about the side effects of the pharmaceutical, reports ABC News.
Qsymia is the first weight-loss drug approved by the FDA in more than a decade. The drug is actually a combination of two already-approved substances – phentermine and the anti-seizure drug Topomax. Studies showed that patients who took Qsymia in combination with diet and exercise lost between approximately 7 percent more weight than those using a placebo.
While the pill was ultimately approved, there are several strings attached. Qsymia was found to cause birth defects, which means that expectant mothers or women who may become pregnant cannot take the drug. Women will have to have a pregnancy test in order to get the prescription.
In addition, numerous doctors have raised concerns about the drug's effect on cardiovascular health. When the drug was first up for approval in 2010, under a different name, it was ultimately shot down because of these risks.
This time around, the drug was approved on several conditions. The maker of the pill, Vivus, will have to provide doctors with detailed descriptions of the possible side effects, so the physician can effectively manage the risks. In addition, a study will be done by the famous Cleveland Clinic to further assess the impact of the drug on the body.
"Honestly, I won't be surprised if adverse effects over time result in a reversal of the approval," said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. "But in the interim, it will help some people lose weight, and many others will try it, dislike it and stop, and gain the weight back."
While the pill may present a new option for those who want to lose weight, the FDA made it clear that people should not expect to lose any weight without diet and exercise. Even still, the results will likely vary from person to person.
For many people, a liposuction or tummy tuck procedure is the only way to lose massive amounts of weight. These procedures come with the added benefit of no long-term side effects. While patients will ultimately have to complete their recovery from a tummy tuck, the negative effects of the surgery won't persist. As it stands now, there are many questions about what Qsymia could do to patients over time.