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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