This is awesome! The FDA just approved a “new” weight-loss drug Wegovy, touted as a “game-changer” by many media outlets and medical expert sources. With the obesity rate in this country escalating over the last two generations, it is clear we need another weight loss drug. Because weight loss drugs are the answer to the obesity crisis…………said no Metabolism Expert……Ever……… Said no Obesity Medicine physician ever.
There are currently 6 (now 7) FDA approved weight loss drugs: Xenical/Alli (orlistat), Qsymia (phentermine-topiramate), Contrave (naltrexone-bupropion), Saxenda (liraglutide), Belviq (lorcaserin), and phentermine, the most commonly prescribed. Four of these were approved just over the last decade. As I have discussed in past blogs and lectures on metabolism and in past obesity conferences – https://www.a4m.com/weight-symposium-boston-2017.html#schedule -, I predicted that these drugs would do nothing for the obesity rate in this country and cause significant harm. Remember Fen-Phen? Already we are seeing damage these drugs are causing. In fact, Belviq (lorcaserin) is being formally looked at by the FDA to be pulled off the market due to its increased cancer occurrence. I mentioned this risk at a national conference four years ago. These are issues already known before approval. Qsymia will be the following weight loss drug to be “questioned” and pulled from the market.
The issue is everyone is looking for a quick fix. The demand is there. Pharmaceutical companies are primed to make billions (that is, millions with a B). Obesity is the fastest-growing chronic disease process, and along with that comes diabetes, heart disease, and cancers. Of course, people are looking for quick answers, and the FDA is willing to approve quick fixes. Unfortunately, you will not find an obesity fix in a pill.
Now let us talk about this “new, game-changing weight loss drug” Wegovy. Like many of the “new drugs,” it is not new. Wegovy, or the generic semaglutide, is a well-known diabetes medication noted to help people reduce hunger and eat less. Semaglutide was tested in Phase III clinical trials showed a weight loss of approximately 15% over a year and a half with the usual side effects (nausea, cramping, weird bowel movements). This amount of weight loss is more significant than the other FDA-approved medications which average a 5% to 8% weight loss. However, none have shown to sustain the weight loss, and all have statistically and clinically significant side effects. Do you see yourself taking these drugs for life? And then there is the cost: Average $1200 a month without insurance. Even with insurance, with over 70% of our population overweight (yep, that is correct), this cost is not practical nor sustainable. Even if insurance covers it, what do you think will happen to health insurance rates? The European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA), Europe’s FDA equivalent, has not approved the drug…..yet.
So, we now have another FDA-approved weight-loss drug, expensive and unproven for sustained weight loss……….a drug with questionable long-term safety issues that makes you eat less, allowing your body to become more efficient in storing calories. Our society values big servings, profit, and quick fixes. We are overexposed to fast-food marketing. Our brains are wired physiologically to take in high-calorie foods. We crave salt, fat, and sugar, and it is available to be dropped off at our doorstep with a click of an app. No exercise is required. All of this is a setup for failure.
A sad issue is that there are hundreds if not thousands of studies on weight loss but minimal discussion on sustaining weight loss and even less on addressing metabolic repair as the primary approach for metabolism management. Metabolism management should be the primary goal of all obesity studies. Metabolism repair should be the focus of physicians.
I KNOW you are frustrated. There is a balance between personal responsibility and physician intervention. The longer someone is in an overweight or obese state, the harder it is to get out of it. There is a role for anorectics/appetite suppressants/”weight loss” drugs. I prescribe them. But that role is NOT to lose weight. The brain needs to be rewired from the desire for calorie-dense foods to high-nutrient foods. The focus needs to be on metabolism and metabolic repair. That should be the goal of ANY weight loss approach. In a 15-minute appointment, your doctor cannot provide sound advice for proper metabolic repair. This is another reason for the appeal for these FDA-approved weight-loss drugs: Just write the prescription and tell you “This will help you lose weight” and kick you out the door…..”Next!” If you are only being told to “exercise more and eat less” – https://www.atlantismedcenter.com/blog/bad-advice-from-your-doctor/ -, then you are being ignored.
Soon you will see more articles and pharmaceutical ads on TV for the “game-changing” weight loss drug………And now you know.
To Your Health!