UPDATE 7/17/12: Qnexa was approved by the FDA on July 17, 2020. This marks the second weight loss drug approval in 2020; the first weight loss drugs approved since Alli in 1999. The prescription drug will be sold as Qsymia.
Many people have inquired about ‘The Silver Bullet’ weight loss pill since we posted about its appearance on the Dr. Oz Show several weeks back. And to clarify what exactly the silver bullet pill is, it’s the controversial weight loss drug Qnexa, which has only received preliminary approval from an FDA advisory panel – not from the FDA.
While Dr. Oz says may this be the ‘magic bullet’ America has been waiting for, we would caution consumers before buying into that thought.
Qnexa promises to suppress appetite, cut cravings and increase weight loss. But that’s because it’s comprised of two potentially dangerous drugs called topiramate and phentermine. Phentermine, a type of amphetamine that stimulates the nervous system and increases heart rate and blood pressure, has been commonly used in diet pills because it suppresses appetite. It’s most often recognized as the “Phen” in the weight loss drug Fen-Phen, which was pulled from the market by the FDA in 1997 after being deemed ‘too dangerous for consumption.’
The FDA advisory panel approved the drug this time after previously voting it down, because they claimed to have more data present to understand the benefits of Qnexa, compared to the health risks, which include the risk of birth defects and the effects it has on cardiovascular disease.
Still, the drug is predicted to be passed by the FDA sometime this summer, making it the first diet pill of its kind to be approved in 13 years.
Dr. Craig Primack, MD, who appeared on the Dr. Oz Show to promote the drug, says he has been prescribing topiramate and phentermine separately to his weight loss patients with for a while now and has seen positive results, and says ‘we should be hugely excited’ about Qnexa.
He and Dr. Oz say the pill works because topiramate seems to change the way food tastes and eliminates those ‘gotta have it’ cravings. While phentermine – a well known appetite suppressant – distracts the mind from cravings.
Chris Powell – popular personal trainer and Transformation Specialist on ABC’s Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition – also appeared on the show to weigh in on the potential benefits of the new drug, and described Qnexa as ‘a tool that will give people something to believe when they don’t quite believe in themselves.’ Although, we aren’t quite sure why he’s qualified to discuss the benefits of a potentially dangerous weight loss drug.
Dr. Primack said he recommends prescribing Qnexa to people who are 25-50 lbs overweight. He reported that some of his patentis have seen results in the first day of taking the drug, including loss of appetite. By the first week, he claims that as long as its used as part of a comprehensive healthy program (diet, exercise and sleep) patients can lose between 3-5 pounds, and probably 10-15 pounds by the first month.
Although Dr. Oz says he is not connected with the drug company at all and truly believes that the preliminary results from the pill are very powerful, we still have concerns about Qnexa and are not in support of this drug. We believe the solution to long term weight loss is and should always be through healthy diet and exercise.
DietsInReview.com’s Registered Dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, cautions that on-again, off-again restrictive dieters regain weight lost by over-eating in between periods of dieting because the human body is simply programmed to work that way. “I expect Qnexa to perpetuate that reality of dieting, and for that reason in addition to the heart disease risk, it is not worth the risk,” she says. “The panel members who voted for Qnexa do not understand obesity treatment.”