Marie Gahler, Senior Manager, Weight and Nutrition Education Services
We like options! The same weight loss treatment doesnt work for all individuals so the FDAs recent approval of Qsymia, the second weight loss medication approved this month, is a relief for those of us who work in the weight loss field. The FDAs approval of Qsymia (formerly known as Qnexa) will provide more tools for helping those who struggle with their weight and the related health complications.
Qsymia (pronounced Q-Sim-ee-ah), like the other recently approved drug lorcaserin (brand name Belviq) helps to curb appetite so folks are satisfied with less food and are more easily able to reduce their calorie intake and lose weight. Qsymia is a combination of two medications that are already on the market phentermine and topiramate. The combination of these two drugs has been shown in clinical trials to produce 12-14% weight loss. Qsymia is taken once a day, unlike Belviq which will be a twice daily medication, and can be given at varying doses. Dosing is escalated over many weeks and increased if weight loss results are not seen. This type of dosing is intended to keep individuals on the lowest dose necessary to achieve results. This may decrease potential side effects both in the short and long term. It will be recommended that use of the drug be halted after 12 weeks if a 5% weight loss is not achieved.
Both Qsymia and Belviq are approved for those with a BMI of 30 or greater, or those with a BMI of 27 or higher who also have a weight related comorbidity such as hypertension. Common side effects with Qsymia include tingling of the hands and feet, dizziness, insomnia, constipation, and dry mouth. It is not approved for use in those who are pregnant, have glaucoma, or hyperthyroidism. It will be available only through pharmacies that have a special certification.
After many years of FDA rejection of new weight loss medications, the approval of both Belviq and Qsymia is a step in the right direction for finding effective solutions for those who are overweight and obese.
Marie Gahler has more than 25 years experience in treating obesity and weight related health behaviors and continues to be inspired by the efforts and success of those who strive to improve their health and weight. She currently manages the Accomplish Bariatric Nutrition Services program and develops curriculum for the Weight Talk® personal coaching program. Read more of Marie Gahler's blog posts.