New Diet Drug QSYMIA Debut is Earlier Than Expected: FDA-approved and Available Today (VIDEO)

Data shows that Qsymia has helped patients in studies lose 10 percent of their body weight.

By Judy Feldman on September 18, 2012 12:10 PM EDT

Prescription Medication
New Diet Drug QSYMIA Debuts Early: Available Today (Photo: Wiki Commons)

For the first time in more than 13 years, the Food and Drug Administration approved last February a new once-a-day medication in pill form,  to help consumers fight obesity. You will need a prescription. But Qsymia is on sale now.  (Another diet drug, Belviq, has also been approved by the FDA, manufactured by Arena and its marketing partner Eisai. Belviq is expected to be on sale early in 2013.)

Qsymia will be the first FDA-approved once daily combination treatment for patients struggling with obesity," Peter Tam, president of Vivus, the company manufacturing the drug, (NASDAQ:VVUS) said in a statement earlier this summer. Data presented by Vivus shows that Qsymia has been helped patients lose about 10 percent of their body weight.

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Why now?

As reported by ABCNews, "Until recently, the array of available options has been frustratingly sparse for many doctors and their patients: diet, exercise and, for those overweight enough to qualify, bariatric surgery."  But now - there is more and more pressure to find ways to alleviate their suffering. Some of the pressure is economic. Currently, one-third of Americans are obese, and many have chronic, expensive medical conditions as a result, such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.

Also reported today by Reuters, a ninth report from the Trust for America's Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation  ("F as in Fat") projects that, by 2030, if Americans do not change their habits and trends continue..." half of U.S. adults will be obese."  The   "F as in Fat" projects:  obesity rates of at least 44 percent in every state and over 60 percent in 13 states; 7.9 million new cases of diabetes per year, compared to 1.9 million new cases in recent years, and as many as 6.8 million new cases of chronic heart disease and stroke every year, compared with 1.3 million new cases per year now. "The increasing burden of illness will go right to the bottom line, the report says: $66 billion more in annual obesity-related medical costs over and above today's $147 billion to $210 billion (out of total healthcare spending of $2.7 trillion).

Who will qualify for Qsymia? 

Candidates who qualify for this drug are adults who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 kg/m2 or greater (which is considered  "obese") and or those with a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or greater (considered "overweight") who also have at least one weight-related medical condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. To calculate your BMI, go here.

Will it be effective?

"This is a medication that studies show is one of the most effective medicines we've ever seen for controlling weight," said Dr. Louis Aronne of New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center, said to ABC News. For the ABC News Video, see here.

What makes it unique?

Women of child-bearing age will be allowed to take it, unlike other previous weight loss-drugs - as long as they test negative for pregnancy. Also, it is two different available drugs now packed into one medication. One is an appetite suppressant and the other reduces cravings for food. Both medications  have been known for a long time --  phentermine, and topiramate.

Will it be expensive?

Two doses that will probably be used the most will be priced at either $135.62 per month (mid dose) or at $183.90 per month (high dose)... so it should cost about $4- $6 a day.

Who will not qualify -- who should not take it?

Naturally, there are the side-effects. (Scroll to bottom). But in short, Qsymia must not be used by women who are pregnant; by anyone with eye problems (such as glaucoma); by patients with an overactive thyroid condition or who are take MAOI anti-depressants;  or by patients who are allergic to phentermine, topiramate, or any of the other ingredients  Now, before you jump to call your doctor expecting a magical fountain of youth type fix-it now on the shelves at your drugstore, take note: for Qsymia to really work, it needs to be  combined with exercise and healthy eating habits. That said, the news looks promising.

Qsymia is currently only available by mail-order, once you have a prescription, and through certified pharmacies in the Home Delivery Network. For more information on what pharmacies, and how to order, see here.

And for more information on Qsymia, including updates for potential patients, details about side-effects, and more, see here.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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