SUNDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- Obese patients taking a high dose of an investigational weight-loss pill called Qnexa lost an average of 22 pounds over a year, while also lowering their cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, a new study has found.
Qnexa is a combination of two medications: phentermine, the most widely used weight-loss drug in the United States, currently available under a variety of brand names as well as a generic; and topiramate (Topamax), best known as a drug used to ease epilepsy and migraine.
Qnexa was recently turned down as a weight-loss aid by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, because there was not enough data on the risk of birth defects and heart problems related to the drug. Topiramate has been linked to an increased risk for cleft lip/palate in babies born to women who took the drug.
The results of the new study, which was funded by Vivus, Qnexa's maker, suggest that "the combination of topiramate and phentermine when administered with some lifestyle counseling could be a valuable treatment for obesity," said lead researcher Dr. Kishore Gadde, an assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the obesity clinical trials program at Duke University Medical Center.
One reason for the significant weight-loss is that these drugs work by different mechanisms, Gadde said. "In a treatment, [with] the more mechanisms you have there is a greater likelihood of achieving the kind of weight loss we are hoping for, in a large proportion of patients," he said.
In addition, the combination of drugs may alter the side effect profile for each drug, he speculated. "The thinking behind the combination of the drugs is that some of the side effects could actually cancel out," Gadde said. "Topiramate causes fatigue, and phentermine is a stimulant, so they could be negating the side effects of each other."
Topiramate can also cause
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