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Inside Scoop On The New Weight Loss Drug Qysmia

Earlier this year, the FDA advisory panel voted 20-2 to approve the new weight loss drug, Qysmia. You may be more familiar with the previous name, Qnexa, which the FDA required the manufacturer, Visus Inc, to change the name as part of the approval in order to avoid confusion with other drugs with similar sounding names.

This was breaking news at the time since the FDA hadn’t approved any new weight loss drugs in over a decade. While many praised the approval as a step forward in helping to combat our nation’s obesity epidemic, others like myself remained highly skeptical.

In today’s post we’ll discuss the in’s and out’s of Qysmia so you can make an informed decision on whether or not to try it.

More after the jump…

So what exactly is Qysmia?

Qysmia is actually a combination of two different drugs. The first is Phentermine (one of the Phen’s in the formerly banned weight loss drug “Fen-Phen” that was pulled from the market due to its connection with serious cardiovascular issues).

The other is Topiramate, also known as Topomax, a drug primarily used for the treatment of epilepsy.

Qsymia was initially denied approval by the FDA back in 2010 because of potential side effects, but the manufacturer was able to provide enough evidence to gain approval this time around.

Part of the reason why they were able to gain approval lies in the criteria for individuals who would qualify as a candidate for the drug.

The criteria is as follows:

  • The individual has a BMI of 30 or greater
  • The individual has a BMI of 27 or greater AND has high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and/or high cholesterol.

Reported side effects of Qysmia

Side effects of Phentermine may include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Cottonmouth

Side effects of Topiramate may include:

  • Numbness and tingling in the limbs
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Memory Problems
  • Slowed Movements

Oh boy, does this ever sound like fun. Talk about a laundry list of side effects that are ever so unappealing. I don’t know about you, but I’m struggling to envision this as “healthy” weight loss.

Why Qysmia is not recommend for…

The manufacturer clearly spells out on their website that the drug is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, for those who have glaucoma, have an overactive thyroid, are taking anti-depressants, or those who have an unstable heart condition such as irregular heart rates.

My position on Qysmia…

As a health and fitness coach who specializes in weight loss for middle age adults, I’m open minded to potential aids that may help overweight individuals who have struggled with diet and exercise.

I’m certainly not “anti-drug” from a big picture standpoint. I believe if there will be new breakthroughs in prescription medicine for obesity, it will lie in treatments that work at the cellular level.

However, this drug certainly doesn’t fall into that category. Basically, it’s just another twist on a way to provide individuals with appetite suppression.

So it’s helping obese individuals lose their desire to eat. In other words it helping them adhere to a “diet.”

Step back and think about this for a second…let’s assume an overweight individual takes this drug and effectively loses a significant amount of weight by drastically restricting calories.

What happens when they stop taking the drug? At some point in time this obviously has to happen. By blunting the mechanisms that control appetite, they’ve altered the chemical and hormonal balances in their body, not FIXED them.

There will be those who argue, this is an acceptable trade off as the health risks are less when an individual loses a significant amount of body fat. I get that, I guess my concern is with how it’s being done.

If lifestyle changes don’t occur with diet and exercise, long-term lasting weight loss won’t happen. The individual is likely to gain all the weight back and then some once they stop taking the drug. Taking a drug to “starve” yourself to a lower body weight is going to have consequences on the back end.

This doesn’t even take into consideration all the possible side effects experienced in the process. The question individuals will have to ask themselves is, “will taking the drug be worth it?”

Out of desperation I’m sure more than a few will say yes. I’m just not so sure this drug will be the solution they were hoping for.

I don’t want to come across as positioning obesity as an easy problem to solve. There’s a lot more going on within an individual’s make-up that often leads them to become obese than simply being lazy and wanting to overeat.

It’s not always a matter of telling someone to “eat less and exercise more.” As someone who’s researched fat loss for over twenty years and worked with hundreds of weight loss clients, I can tell you it’s not always that simple.

There are often mental and emotional factors that lie deep under the surface. Nobody wakes up one day and decides they want to be obese. The issue is complex and more than anything, these individuals need help with making a change.

Once again I’m open to new prescription medications that can help with irregularities at the cellular level, I just haven’t seen them yet.

In the meantime, the best approach will be coaching, accountability, and support from others who can help overweight individuals with lifestyle change.

This includes helping them identify possible imbalances that may be present along with working through mental and emotional roadblocks.

True health care and assistance means something far more than prescribing a drug to suppress one’s appetite as a way to help them eat less.

This is my two cents for what it’s worth. If you’re considering taking Qysmia for weight loss, I highly recommend you think your decision through and discuss it with your doctor.

For those who would like to choose another route than taking prescription medications, I recommend consulting with a health or fitness professional who can provide coaching and assistance.

If you live in the Charleston, SC area I’d be happy to help in any way I can. We provide a free, no-obligations consultation at Shaping Concepts for individuals who would like to learn more about lifestyle change with the help of a personal coach.


Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a no-obligations personal training trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs. Experience the Shaping Concepts difference today.

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