Fat Chance for Weight Loss Drugs

The Country in Desperate Need of Biggest Losers

Obesity has become a national image of the US population given that one in every three US residents (>72 millions) are overweight or obese. Compared with ~400 millions of overweight/obese human beings worldwide, 18% of them are in the US despite the fact that the US population only accounts for 4.52% of the entire population on earth.

Although it is fairly easy to tell if a person is overweight/obese, there is a scientific definition.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overweight is defined as the body mass index (BMI) is over 25 in an adult, whereas BMI greater than 30 is doomed obesity. Want to know your BMI? Click here to find out.  In addition to the severe distortion of body appearance by excess body fats, obesity can cause many notorious chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, just to name a few (check this article to learn more diseases caused by obesity).

Losing is Simple But Not Easy

Obesity has created a huge market for biotech/pharmaceutical companies, from weight loss to lowering blood sugar, surgical fat removal to gastric bypass surgery.  Since obese patients are expected to rely on weight loss drug for a long period of time, it is conceivable that a FDA-approved magic pill can potentially become a cash cow for a pharmaceutical company.  Unfortunately, that magic pill is proved hard to find.  For instance, a fen-phen weight loss cocktail was recalled in 1997 due to serious heart and lung side effects.  On 8 October 2010, the FDA announced that Abbott Laboratories withdrew its 1997-approved weight loss drug Meridia off the market due to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

During past few months, the FDA advisory committee had suggested “NO” to two companies developing weight loss drugs with unwanted side effects: Vivus’s Qnexa (phentermine and topiramate) and Arena Pharmaceuticals’s Lorqess (lorcaserin).  The next drug facing the FDA advisory committee, Orexigen and Takeda’s Contrave, is looking gloom given the recent FDA advisory committee’s tone on weight loss drugs.

Several companies with weight loss products still on the market are facing mixed sales records and potential side effects during aftermarket analysis.

  • GlaxoSmithKline: Alli
  • Roche: Xenical
  • Allergan: Lap-Band
  • Novo Nordisk: Victoza
  • Sanofi-Aventis: Lantus
  • Merck: Januvia
  • Eli Lilly/Amylin: Byetta

Go Back to The Basics

Although I am in the sickness industry (medical research to find the cause and cure for diseases), I really think the simplest way to reduce obesity incidence is to implement healthy diet and regular exercise promoted by the wellness industry.  Forget about that magic pill, eat right and sweat more!

Until next post, keep on reading and writing!!


About fdabiomed
I like to read, organize, and write about biomedical related topics. I am passionate to learn new things, particularly news related to the Food and Drug Administration's decision and announcement.

One Response to Fat Chance for Weight Loss Drugs

  1. Pingback: Companies Under The Radar of a Talking Head « FDAbiomed

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