The weight-loss drug Qsymia hit the market on Tuesday after the US Food and Drug Administration approved its use earlier this year.
The drug is available by prescription only, after the drug manufacturer, Vivus, showed that the drug helped patients lose 10 percent of their body weight on average, reports ABC News.
The weight-loss drug is a combination of two medications, which are already being used in weight management. It is a combination of an appetite suppressant and another that reduces cravings for food.
A FDA advisory panel voted 20-2 to approve Qsymia in February, and the approval marked the first time a weight-loss drug was approved in more than 13 years.
The approval is the latest move in the FDA’s quest to give doctors and patients more tools to fight against excessive weight gain in a country where obesity rates are growing quickly.
The FDA has also indicated that the drug is approved for use in female parents of child-bearing age, which is contrary to other weight-loss products. Patients in this category will be able to use the drug, as long as they continue to have a negative pregnancy test before and during them taking it.
They will need to use effective and consistent birth control while taking the drug. Dr. Louis Aronne of New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center, stated:
This is a medication that studies show is one of the most effective medicines we’ve ever seen for controlling weight.”
CBS 47 notes that Sue Decotiis, MD, of New York’s Manhattan Medical Weight Loss Physician, stated that the launch of Qsymia is an important day for those whose weight is destroying their health. Decotiis stated:
“For us weight loss specialists, any new tool we can get our hands on is very exciting. We’re not talking about the person who just needs to lose 10 pounds. We are talking about the patient who is obese or very overweight with related health problems.”
While Qsymia has proven to be an effective weight-loss drug, it still has serious side effects, including birth defects if the person is pregnant while taking it. Therefore, women of childbearing age will have to certify they are using birth control before getting a prescription. Other possible side effects are increased heart rate, suicidal thoughts of actions, and eye problems.