New Diet Drugs May Lead To New Drug Abuses

San Diego-based Arena Pharmaceuticals is bringing to market a drug called Lorqess.

Diet drugs might have a long past involving abuse, but that hasn’t stopped San Diego-based Arena Pharmaceuticals from researching the new drug Lorcaserin. FDA administrators are supposed to vote on whether they should approve the drug on June 27. Considering the 18-4 vote by a committee in favor of Lorcaserin, one might wonder whether or not the FDA ultimately will approve it.

Advisors to the FDA have also pressed the commission to approve the drug called Qnexa. Vivus, which is based in Mountain View, California, manufacturers Qnexa. Qnexa is a trade name for a combination of topiramate and phentermine. Likewise, topiramate’s trade name is Topamax. Some people might recall that in the past, phentermine was mixed with fenfluramine to make the cocktail that most people called fen-phen.  This was just one phase in the endless history of unhealthy detoxes, diets, and cleanses.  Many participants in activities like taking fen-phen should probably consider if they are in fact dieting or harboring an eating disorder.

Before being pulled from the market, fen-phen caused serious side effects including heart and lung conditions. One of the problems with fen-phen was that many people who took the drugs were not obese, but instead were people looking for an easy way to get thinner. This abuse led to even more deaths than would have occurred otherwise. Lorcaserin, which is under the trade name Lorqess, has certain restrictions to prevent such abuse. Patients with a body mass index exceeding 30 might be likely candidates, as would patients with a BMI exceeding 27 and a comorbid condition. Such conditions can include type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

When considering the case of Lorcaserin, it should be noted that patients seem to gain some of the weight back after they stop taking the drug. Side effects like headache and dizziness might not be appealing to many patients. FDA officials are supposed to decide on Qnexa in mid-July, and one might wonder what restrictions are going to be put into place to prevent abuse.

It seems that Qnexa will be restricted as well. In fact, the restrictions are very similar to those being considered for patients taking Lorcaserin. Phase 2 clinical development experiments surrounding the combination of phentermine and topiramate suggest that it might be useful for the treatment of other conditions. These include obstructive sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes.

However, the weight loss drug fen-phen was perhaps prescribed far too often. Even if it were not as dangerous as it was found to be, too many clinics were almost giving it away. Restrictions and indications always need to be followed when dealing with prescription medications as easy access leads to easy abuse, and abuse can lead to death.