New diet drugs are new versions of old off-label treatments

The Wall Street Journal reports that although some doctors who treat obesity patients hailed the FDA’s recent approval of Qsymia and Belviq – the agency’s first diet-drug approvals in more than a decade – as an advancement in weight-loss treatment, many weight-loss specialists have been prescribing variations of the two drugs off-label for the past 10 years.

Qsymia’s ingredients are phentermine (half of the now banned fen-phen diet drug) and topirimax, an anti-seizure drug that has also been approved as treatment for chronic migraines.

The two-drug combination works by making the dieter feel full; and Belviq (lorcaserin hydrochloride) works by selectively activating serotonin receptors in the brain, thus giving the dieter a feeling of satiation.

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