Qnexa: Is There Finally a Magic Pill for Obesity?

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The best way to lose weight may soon come in the form of a pill if the FDA approves a weight loss drug for obesity named Qnexa.

For the first time since 1999, Food and Drug Administration advisers voted 20-2 in favor of a new prescription medication for obesity. Qnexa is manufactured by Vivus, Inc and is a combination of topiramate–an anticonvulsant and also known by the brand name Topamax and phentermine--an appetite suppressant and part of the fen-phen combination.

You may remember phentermine from the infamous weight-loss drug fen-phen, but the main problem in fen-phen was the fen (fenluramine) not the phen. Fen-phen was removed from the market in 1997 amid lawsuits for heart valve problems and pressures in the lungs.

qnexaThe combination of topiramate and phentermine in Qnexa helps people lose weight by suppressing the appetite and increasing feelings of satiety. Phentermine is an appetite suppressant and topiramate appears to alter hunger hormones, decrease appetite and adjust glucose in insulin concentrations, according to the Fox News article “Qnexa, Weight Loss and the FDA.”

According to the Vivus, Inc. February 22, 2012 briefing to the FDA advisory committee, Qnexa is a combination of lower doses of phentermine and topiramate. Both medications are approved and marketed in the United States. “The prescription use of these drugs spans more than 52 years for phentermine and more than 15 years for topiramate.” If you’re interested in learning more about Qnexa clinical trials, you can access the full briefing to the FDA by clicking here.

Can You Lose Weight Fast with Qnexa?

With Qnexa, people can expect to lose an average of 10 percent of their body weight after one year. For example, a person who is obese and weighs 300 pounds can expect to lose 30 pounds in the first year.

Qnexa Availability 

The Food and Drug Administration was originally expected to decide whether or not to approve the drug by April 17, 2012, according to the New York Times article “In Reversal, F.D.A. Panel Endorses a Diet Pill.” The article also goes on to say tht the FDA usually follows the recommendations of its advisory committees but not always. In 2011, an advisory panel recommended the weight loss drug Contrave for approval, but the FDA declined to follow its advice. In 2010, a similar advisory committee voted 10-6 against Qnexa, and the FDA then rejected the drug.

Now, however, the FDA will not announce its decision as late as July 17, 2012, according to the USA Today article “FDA Will Spend Three More Months Reviewing Qnexa Diet Pill.” The reason behind the delay is to give the agency more time to review the safety strategy of the drug.

Qnexa Side Effects

In trials, Qnexa was found to cause a slight increase in heart rate, which may increase the odds of having a heart attack or stroke. Another side effect is an increase in the risk of birth defects — especially cleft lip. Vivus, Inc proposed monthly pregnancy testing for patients who take the drug and special training  about the risks and benefits for healthcare providers who will prescribe Qnexa. Other side effects include memory loss and kidney stones.

The majority of  the advisory board believes Qnexa’s benefits outweigh the health risks of obesity.

Qnexa Weight Loss 

If Qnexa is approved by the FDA, it’s likely to be prescribed for people who have  a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. A BMI of 25 to 29 is considered overweight. People who have a BMI of 27 or higher and have weight related health issues like diabetes or sleep apnea may also likely be targeted for the drug.

What are your feelings about a pill for weight loss? Would you be willing to risk your health to lose weight?


“Vivus Weight-Loss Pill Qnexa Wins Backing of FDA Advisory Panel.” Business Week. February 27, 2012.

“In Reversal, F.D.A. Panel Endorses a Diet Pill.” New York Times. February 23, 2012.

Siegel, Mark. “Qnexa, Weight Loss and the FDA.” Fox News. February 28, 2012.


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