Qnexa: Real Weight Loss Solution or A Class Action Law Suit Waiting To Happen?

Are You Thinking About Asking Your Doctor For A Prescription To Qnexa?  

On July 17 news broke that the FDA finally approved a weight loss drug.  Qnexa is the first weight loss supplement to be approved by the FDA in 13 years and news of its upcoming release to the market is what many people have been hoping to hear.  Some are probably asking their doctors about getting access to the drug while you’re reading this.

Is Qnexa A Magic Pill?

What You Need To Know About Qnexa. 

I was at a health fair last week and an employee told me she’s thinking about asking her doctor for a prescription to Qnexa and wanted to know what I thought.  I think that – despite the fact that the FDA does due diligence before it puts a stamp of approval on anything – there are some things you should consider before signing up:

1.  Qnexa is a combination of phentermine and topiramate.

Topiramate is an anti-episepsy medication which increases the sensation of feeling full. Research on topiramate has shown that pregnant women exposed to the drug have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with cleft palates.

Phentermine is an amphetamine.  Amphetamines are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system and can be both physically and psychologically addictive when overused.  On the street, amphetamines are referred to as ‘speed’.

2.  The FDA failed to approve Qnexa in 2010 because of concerns about the drug’s side effects that include heart palpitations, an increased heart rate, mental fogginess, and birth defect.

3.  On July 17, 2012 the FDA panel voted 20 to 2 for approval of Qnexa and, according to ABC news, said that they believe the weight loss benefits outweigh the risk of birth defects and cardiovascular problems associated with the drug.

4.  The FDA panel that approved the drug made a recommendation to the manufacturer that it include warning labels targeted at women of childbearing years because of possible birth defects that are linked to the drug such as cleft palate.

5.  There is a long history of safety problems with diet pills once they hit the market and are used outside of the pilot group.  Diet pills like Fen-phen seemed like a good idea at one time.  The manufactures of Fen-phen have now settled a class action lawsuit for 3.75 billion after the drug was linked to heart valve disease.  You can read more about Fen-phen, the wonder drug, in a post I wrote earlier this year.

There Are Always Two Sides

On the flip side, Qnexa is an additional tool that doctor’s can offer their patients that are struggling to lose weight.  Until now, weight loss options have been limited to diet, exercise, and, in some cases, bariatric surgery.   If Qnexa can help patients lose 10 percent of their body weight – which is what the manufacturer claims it can do – with minimal side effects, it will be a benefit for thousands of people.

The drug has the potential to be even more effective when used in combination with the proper diet, moderate amounts of exercise and counseling.  Qnexa, along with healthier lifestyle choices, could give people the jump-start they need to succeed at long-term weight loss.

I told the employee that raised the question about Qnexa that I would pass on being part of the pilot program.  Wait until Qnexa has been on the market at least a year and see if there are any red flags, recalls, or additional warnings in terms of side effects.  It took almost two years for the heart valve issues associated with Fen-phen use to be brought to light.  If there is a dark and dangerous side to Qnexa that the manufacturer and FDA are not aware of now, it will surface, and probably sooner rather than later.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center said, “Honestly, I won’t be surprised if adverse effects over time result in a reversal of the approval.  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.”

Is Dr. Katz Right?

What do you think? Would you be interested in trying Qnexa? Do the possible side effects make it not worth the risk?