By Karen Weintraub
We’ve all dreamt of popping a pill to help us safely lose weight, or at least eat that chocolate cake without guilt. But alas, even though the Food and Drug Administration has approved two new diet drugs in recent months, that dream probably isn’t any closer to reality.In the current issue of the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), Sidney Wolfe, founder of the advocacy group Public Citizen, slams the FDA for approving the drugs – lorcaserin (US brand name Belviq) and topiramate (called Qsymia). The FDA’s European counterpart rejected both of them because of heart risks that turned up during preliminary trials.
The FDA decided that the risks were relatively small and ordered the manufacturers to look for problems once they are on the market – basically, approving the drugs now and worrying later if they prove dangerous. Buyer beware.
The problem, Wolfe explained in a phone interview from Washington where he is preparing to testify at a National Institutes of Health meeting tomorrow, is that the reasons for hunger are complex and connected to many biological systems.
“When you give a drug powerful enough to effect hunger it is also going to affect other systems of the body,” most often the heart, he said. Continue reading