Miracle diet pill? A safe drug is elusive

Written by admin   // February 28, 2012   // 0 Comments

(Associated Press)
The battle of the bulge has been a big, fat failure for U.S. drugmakers. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying.

For nearly a century, scientists have struggled to make a diet pill that helps people lose weight without side effects that range from embarrassing digestive issues to dangerous heart problems.

Earlier this week, a government panel recommended the FDA approve the latest diet drug Qnexa. The recommendation raises hopes that the U.S. could approve the first anti-obesity drug in more than a decade. It also highlights how challenging it is to create a pill that fights fat in a variety of people without negative side effects. Even Qnexa was previously rejected over concerns that it can cause heart palpitations and birth defects if taken by pregnant women.

“Having a drug for obesity would be like telling me you had a drug for the fever,” said Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of bariatric surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York. “There can be millions of different reasons why someone is obese; it’s really a symptom of various underlying mechanisms.”

An effective and safe diet pill would be an easy sale in the U.S.: With more than 75 million obese adults, the nation’s obesity rate is nearing 35 percent. But the biggest problem in creating a weight-loss drug is that there appears to be no safe way to turn off one of the human body’s most fundamental functions.


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