Photograph by Mario Tama/Getty Images.
A new weight-loss pill, thought by doctors to be one of the most effective anti-obesity drugs, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.
The once-daily pill, heralded for its effectiveness, is approved for treating overweight or obese people who have at least one weight-related condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Qsymia, formerly Qnexa, is the second weight-loss pill approved by the agency in under a month after 13 years without an approval, according to NPR, highlighting how difficult it is to develop a safe and efficient anti-obesity drug.
Patients lost an average of 8 percent of their body weight in the first year of taking the drug. While the success is new, the science behind it is not. The medication is actually a combination of low doses of an anti-seizure drug and a stimulant, both known for suppressing appetite and giving people a sense of fullness after meals. Analysts estimate the pill, likely to be introduced in the fourth quarter of this year, could rake in upward of $1 billion by 2016 for the company behind the drug, Vivus Inc.
Qsymia was previously rejected by the FDA in 2010 because of concerns that it may cause birth defects. The approval comes with a risk-management plan to help women prevent becoming pregnant while on the medication. It also shouldn’t be taken by patients with a history of heart disease or stroke.