Is there such a thing as a safe diet pill?
Not likely. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has a terrible track record for the past 15 years when it comes to prescription weight loss drugs. Yes, obesity is an alarming health crisis but that does not justify being reckless with oversight standards. It has been forced to ban several weight loss drugs it had approved because of the clear evidence that the diet pills increased cardiovascular risk. They include Meridia, Redux, ephedra and PPA.
Ephedra, sadly, everybody knows about because it has been in the news so often for causing heart attacks and strokes. Meridia also increased the risks of heart attacks and strokes. Redux caused heart valve problems and PPA caused bleeding strokes.
There is one approved diet drug currently available but it's a doozy. Originally, Orlistat was sold as Xenical and it was hailed as a breakthrough drug for fat loss. However, it hadn't been on the market long when evidence began to mount up that it caused liver damage. When the word spread and sales dwindled , the company that made it, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK,) applied for and received approval from the FDA to sell an over the counter version called Alli. What? Didn't they have access to this evidence of liver damage? Apparently they didn't care.
Beware of Alli!
Unbelievably, Alli is still on the market today. A consumer advocacy group , Public Citizen, has petitioned the FDA twice to have it banned but to no avail. How to account for such irresponsible behavior by the FDA? It may be an agency that is underfunded and overworked but there is no excuse for approving diet pills with serious known adverse medical risks.
The story of obviously UNsafe diet pills gets worse. The FDA continues approving new diet pills* with highly questionable safety histories. As recently as summer 2012, two more prescription drugs for weight loss were approved. A company called Arena Pharmaceuticals brought out a diet pill to be sold under the brand name Belviq. Just a few weeks later the agency signed off on another combination drug manufactured by Vivus and originally called Qnexa. Amazingly, the FDA rejected Qnexa in 2010 because of dangerous side effects.
So what does Vivus do?
They rename it Qsymia and the FDA is ok with it...old poison in a new bottle. According to Public Citizen News, Qunexa can cause these dangerous side effects: kidney stones, pancreatitis, birth defects (such as cleft palate), cognitive impairment and metabolic acidosisa known risk factor for heart arrhythmia.
When it comes to safe diet pills here's what Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research says about the FDA's tolerance of diet drugs.
"It is magical and delusional thinking for anyone to believe that a drug will turn off hunger without hitting other internal targets where it will do harm, usually to the cardiovascular system."
"Has the FDA already forgotten why it pulled previous diet pills off the market?"
There is no such thing as a safe diet pill. Here's what the Annals of Internal Medicine published in an online recommendation when the FDA acted to approve these new diet pills. They made an online recommendation against the use of ANY diet drugs due to safety issues. The reality is dieters cannot KEEP the WEIGHT OFF by taking diet medications.
The FDA is obviously concerned about the health crisis that obesity represents. However, it is dangerous to ignore the scientific evidence of the health risks of these diet pills.
And besides the fact that they can impair your health, do diet pills really work?
As Wolfe said when asked to comment on the FDA's actions: "...it's common knowledge that the true path to weight loss consists of a long term program of healthy eating combined with regular exercise."
I've been say'n! Safe diet pills? Who needs them?
* These new diet pills are not available on the market yet, but when they are Public Citizen will classify Belviq and Qsymia as "Do Not Use" drugs on it's WorstPills.org website.
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