Obesity Drugs and the FDA

Despite their long and often checkered past, obesity drugs are currently a very hot topic. The FDA is currently evaluating three medications for the treatment of obesity. Each offers modest weight-loss (5 – 10 percent on overage) when used in combination with behavior modification, but has their own unique set of side effects.

So, I feel pretty strongly that we need obesity drugs. Reality is that treating obesity is difficult. We need more tools in the tool box and such drugs simply will be one of those tools. Like other treatments, they won’t be right for everyone, but will be useful for the right patients prescribed by the right physicians. That decision should be made by a well-educated patient talking with a well-trained physician so they can understand the risks (both the risk of remaining affected by obesity plus the fact that none of these drugs is without their own side effects/risks) as well as benefits.

One real surprise to me has been the sheer amount of pundits, whether bloggers, diet book authors, physicians, nutritionists, editorialists and others, who have come forward saying we don’t need obesity drugs. Some of this is pure self- promotion, use my product/services/diet/procedure/etc. and you won’t need to take drugs – not unlike we see with other obesity treatments. Some of this is also the fear that such drugs will be marketed as a “magic bullet” for weight-loss, but with just modest but significant weight-loss associated with these medications plus an FDA who will likely tightly regulate these medications, I think this is a false concern.

So what’s the real driver here of such comments? Do these pundits not understand that there are too few tools for those affected by obesity? Do they not get the complexity of the disease of obesity (yes, obesity is a disease and a blog post for another day)? Do they not get that modest weight-loss can and does improve health? Are they unwilling to admit that the treatment/intervention they promote for addressing obesity doesn’t work for everyone? Is it bias? Basically, those of us affected by obesity are too unintelligent or too lazy to eat right and exercise? Feel free to share your thoughts.

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2 Comments for this Post
  • Pam Davis
    April 3, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Once again, obesity treatment is being held to a standard other disease treatments are not required to meet. Come on people, if WE as a society continue to allow the continuation of bias, stigma and discrimination against those with obesity, WE have no one to blame but ourselves.

    • C.A.Dujovne
      April 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Fully agree wit Pam Davis.

      We had no new anti-obesity drugs approved for over a decade.

      The removal of Dexfenfluramine and Rimonavant for minute incidence of adverse effects were totally unnecessary.Keeping them on the market,since removed, would at worst,had 1% of patients suffering a side effect,in that time the 30+% obese population would have been prevented from 30-50% of severe mortality and morbidity from,diabetes,low HDL Cholesterol,Sleep apnea,Hypertension etc.etc.

      If Aspirin was a new drug applied to FDA for use in prevention of Coronary Disease today,it would have vever been approved due to the incidence of GI and allergic side effects.Would the FDA ever consider taking it from the market today?

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