Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Drugs That Rock a Roll

Lots of hoopla in the pharma industry.  A new obesity drug is up for review tomorrow by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and they already voiced some concerns over safety of the drug... breast cancer...in rats.  Although it's only lab rats, that certainly sets off some red flags.

The trouble is, there really are no great drugs for weight loss that are safe and effective.  All of the drugs that work on the brain to control appetite or to speed up metabolism seem to have unfortunate side effects like increasing blood pressure or increasing risk for having a heart attack or increasing risk for depression.  The drugs that work by blocking fat absorption (like Alli), come with side effects like "anal leakage".  [That's the actual clinical term...I didn't make that up...it's exactly what it sounds like...but doesn't happen in all people so hope for the best.]

For some folks, the risks associated with being severely overweight are greater than the risks of taking the drugs.  A responsible, knowledgeable physician can make that call and prescribe the right drug.  

But some other experts are now suggesting that gastric bypass surgery may be a better option for weight loss when diet and exercise don't work and there's lots of weight to lose.  They contend that the risks are LOWER to have surgery than take a drug...and the chances of success are much higher. Interesting, isn't it?

Why is it so hard to develop an obesity drug that is safe and effective?  I really have no idea.  My guess is that our bodies are just effectively wired to eat...because that ensures our survival as a species.   We haven't figured out how to re-wire or trick our bodies to eat less or burn more calories without messing up some other system.  I'm sure someone will figure it out eventually...if I'm lucky, it will be one of my daughters and they will be able to comfortably support my retirement in the Caribbean with their winnings.  

Right, Edward?

Right, Mrs/Dr T. 

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