The weight loss industry generates billions of dollars every year, and much of that is in the form of pharmaceuticals designed to help people shed unwanted pounds. The newest diet pill to hit pharmacies is called Qsymia, and doctors across the United States are prescribing it to their patients every day. Here’s what you need to know about Qsymia so you can decide if it’s the right choice.
The Newest Diet Pill in 13 Years
Once upon a time, the FDA approved prescription medications targeted at people who wanted to lose weight left and right. However, with the approval of a dangerous drug called Phen-Fen, the deaths of several people, and the removal of the drug from pharmacies nationwide, it seems the FDA was afraid to approve any similar medications until now. For the first time in 13 years, the FDA approved a drug called Qsymia for patients who wanted to shed pounds. Coincidentally, it contains what many experts consider the “safer” half of Phen-Fen – a drug called phentermine. Qsymia combines phentermine with a medication typically prescribed to prevent seizures and migraines called topiramate.
How the Ingredients Help You Lose Weight
The two ingredients in Qsymia, the newest diet pill, are thought to work synergistically to help people shed unwanted pounds.
- Phentermine is a stimulant and appetite suppressant. It’s thought to suppress the appetite by triggering the release of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. In turn, the increased concentration of norepinephrine boosts levels of leptin, which is a hormone shown to regulate appetite.
- Topiramate (brand name Topamax) is a medication regularly given to patients who have chronic migraines or epilepsy. While its exact method of mechanism as it applies to weight loss isn’t known for certain, researchers believe that it helps patients feel satisfied after smaller meals, reduces the taste appeal and cravings for certain foods, and even helps to increase metabolism, which allows patients to burn more calories when they exercise.
The combination of these two ingredients helped patients in clinical trials lose more weight than patients who took a placebo, instead.
Who Should Consider Qsymia?
Although the FDA has approved Qsymia as a prescription weight loss solution, making it the newest diet pill to hit the market in more than a decade, the group was also quite specific about which group of people should take it. Simply put, it’s available for adults who are considered clinically obese, which means they have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or higher, or for adults who are overweight with a BMI of 27 or higher. These adults must also have conditions caused by their weight, which include hypertension, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes. Patients who do not fit these criteria should not take Qsymia.
Along those same lines, the FDA also warns that some people should not use Qsymia. This includes women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those who have eye problems including (but not limited to) glaucoma, those who have an overactive thyroid, individuals who are taking MAOI-type antidepressants, and anyone who is allergic to phentermine, topiramate, or any other ingredient found in Qsymia.
How to Take Qsymia
The FDA also specifies that patients who receive the newest diet pill should also receive access to a REMS, or Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, that includes educational materials for patients, their doctors, and even their pharmacists. Patients should be carefully monitored while taking this medication, and they should be encouraged to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Like many prescription medications for weight loss, Qsymia is only effective when patients eat fewer calories and exercise more often. Per the guidelines, patients may need to take this medication indefinitely to continue reaping the health benefits of lower weight.
What about Side Effects?
Patients who are approved for Qsymia may experience side effects ranging from mild to severe. Mild side effects often go away on their own over time, and these include a tingling sensation in the extremities, changes in taste, difficulty falling or staying asleep, dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, and nausea. In some patients, this medication increased resting heart rates and caused problems with mental focus.
Topiramate has been shown to increase suicidal tendencies or even cause new or worsening depression, especially in young adults and the elderly. Patients with a history of depression should be carefully evaluated before taking Qsymia, and they should be monitored if it is prescribed.
Finally, in very rare cases, patients have experienced severe allergic reactions to Qsymia. These reactions include anaphylactic shock, which may present with swelling of the face, tongue, and throat, dangerously low blood pressure, hives, and trouble breathing. Those who experience any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical care and stop using Qsymia.
The newest diet pill showed promise in clinical trials. It helped people attain normal weights when combined with diet and exercise, and most of those who experienced side effects were not bothered enough by them to stop taking the drug. If you fit the criteria set forth by the FDA, Qsymia may be a good option for you as long as you are willing to make lifestyle changes designed to support a healthy weight.