Concerns raised about newly approved diet medications

The Boston Globe reports in its “Daily Dose” blog, “The approval this week of a new weight loss pill called Qsymia (phentermine/topirimate) means that doctors will soon be able to prescribe two new drugs to help overweight people shed pounds.”

Both Qsymia and Belviq (lorcaserin hydrochloride) “will hit pharmacies later this year and their cost, yet to be determined, will probably be about $100 to $200 a month.”

The blog cites Dr. Richard Siegel, co-director of the Diabetes Center at Tufts Medical Center, saying, “I think patients need to be on a short leash with any weight-loss drug” and “need to come in for frequent followup visits to see whether the medication is working and whether they’re tolerating the drug well.”

NBC News reports in its “Vitals” blog that the Food and Drug Administration “practically gushed about the pent-up demand for new obesity treatments. … But don’t expect to be able to get either drug easily.”

That’s because of restrictions, while “consumer advocates say dieters should think twice about taking either.”

It cites Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen saying, “I would be very surprised if either of these drugs stays on the market very long,” pointing to stated risks related to both.

HealthDay reports, “The US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of two new weight-loss drugs within the past month – the first such medications in 13 years – won’t be a panacea for America’s obesity epidemic, health professionals say.”

And “no weight-loss medication should be used without also making lifestyle changes to facilitate weight loss.”

The article also mentions “potential side effects, including heart palpitations and birth defects” as well as “numbness in the arms and legs,” and “serotonin syndrome.”

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