Pundits and Their Misguided Messages
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A perfect example of a pundit claiming their approach is better than any other raised its ugly head yesterday. In a Forbes.com piece here, author Melanie Haiken highlighted what she thought were the five deadliest diet trends. I don’t disagree with four of her five entries but entry number four focused on QNEXA and its successors, the current drugs being evaluated by the FDA, being included on this list is a perfect example of bias against those affected by obesity needing help rearing its ugly head.
First of all, the blurb is inaccurate when saying all of the drugs are combination therapies of existing medications. They are not. Locaserin (by Arena Pharmaceuticals) is a novel (new) drug. More importantly though is that the big difference between “QNEXA and its successors” is that they are all going through the FDA approval process at this time after having gone through multiple clinical trials including thousands of patients. They will ultimately be judged on the merits of the data by experts both from the FDA and the FDA recruited Advisory Committees (in fact, one such committee has recommended approval of QNEXA by a 20 – 2 in favor vote). This is obviously different then the “Brazilian Diet Pill” and the other so called “pills” listed that get released with no regulatory body reviewing their safety or effectiveness.
I find it curious that Ms. Haiken has already decided that the next batch of obesity drugs “kill.” What’s her expertise to make this assumption? Her background doesn’t indicate medical training. She obviously believes she is more qualified than the recent FDA panel made up of some of the leading experts on diabetes and cardiovascular disease who voted 20 – 2 in favor of approving QNEXA. Plus, does she not recognize that “obesity” itself “kills”? She has softened her comments somewhat with an addition to the article in the comments, but that too shows her bias. Basically, she says everyone should just diet and exercise and we’ll solve the obesity epidemic. If it were that simple, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in when it comes to obesity.
The next batch of obesity drugs are not “magic” or “silver” bullets. If approved, they will cause very modest (5 – 10 percent total body weight-loss) in the right patients when they are prescribed as part of a comprehensive medical weight management program by a skilled practitioner. They do have risks, so the decision to take such drugs should be made carefully; however, placing them in the same categories as “miracle” supplements and other hogwash is a true disservice. Forbes and Ms. Haiken should be ashamed in my opinion.
Check out the post by Ms. Haiken and let me know if you feel the same way.
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