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Q: I heard a new weight-loss drug was approved. What can you tell me about it?
A: In July 2012, the FDA approved the second new drug for weight loss within the past two months, after a 13-year-long drought in the diet drug pipeline. (Belviq was approved in June 2012).
The new medication, Qsymia, actually contains two very different drugs that have been available for quite some time.
Qsymia contains the appetite suppressant phentermine along with the anticonvulsant topiramate in a controlled-release capsule.
Exactly how this drug combination works to produce weight loss is poorly understood, but each of the ingredients have multiple and different effects in the brain and other parts of the body.
Qsymia was approved for use in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise for weight management in obese adults and overweight adults who have at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.
During clinical studies, patients who took Qsymia once-daily in the morning had an average weight loss of about 7 percent to 9 percent after one year compared to those taking a “dummy pill,” and approximately 60 percent to 70 percent of patients lost at least 5 percent of their body weight, compared to 20 percent of patients treated with a “dummy pill.”
The most common side effects of Qsymia include tingling of the hands and feet, dizziness, altered taste sensation, insomnia, constipation and dry mouth. However, more serious adverse effects can occur and Qsymia must not be taken by patients who are pregnant, have glaucoma or have hyperthyroidism.
In addition, Qsymia will only be dispensed through specially certified pharmacies. Much more information about this weight-loss drug can be found online at www.Qsymia.com.
Richard P. Hoffmann, Pharm.D., has been a pharmacist for more than 40 years. Send questions to him at 2960 E. Coventry Court, Hernando, FL 34442.