Stephanie Saul of The New York Times reports that two new approaches to the nation's obesity epidemic are coming up for review by the Food and Drug Administration. Sanofi-Aventis will launch a prescription appetite blocker called Acomplia and GlaxoSmithKline is proposing an over-the-counter version of the weight loss drug Xenical, which will be renamed Alli. As Saul reports, overweight individuals are excited about the drugs despite the health risks of previous weight loss medications:
"I think if we could get obesity treatments to a situation like cholesterol where there are several different products, where one or two in combination might be successful, at least that would arm physicians with more than they have now," said Morgan Downey, executive director of the American Obesity Association, a patients' advocacy group in Washington.Can't wait for the FDA to rule? Consider this excerpt taken from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:
The Food and Drug Administration has scheduled an advisory panel hearing for Jan. 23 to review Alli. And the F.D.A. could make its decision on Acomplia as soon as next month.
Both drug companies are seeking approval in a difficult regulatory environment, as the F.D.A. is moving cautiously in the wake of the Vioxx debacle. Any diet drug is up against a backdrop of safety issues from the past - most notably problems with the diet drug combination fen-phen. Fenfluramine, the "fen" half of the combination, was withdrawn from the market in 1997 after it was found to cause heart damage.
Xenical has shown itself to be moderately effective and has a long safety record. But Alli - a name the company has proposed because the drug must be allied with a weight-loss program - faces the higher hurdle required when prescription drugs are proposed for sale without a doctor's oversight. "You have to not only provide data that shows it's safe, you have to show that it's safe when it's misused," said Gerald Meyer, a former F.D.A. associate commissioner.
New drugs are continually introduced that attempt to lessen the effects our nation's self-destructive eating behavior. Most often, our society treats disease after the degenerative illness has appeared, an illness that is the result of from forty to sixty years of nutritional self-abuse.
Drug companies and researchers attempt to develop and market medications to stem the obesity epidemic. This approach will always be doomed to fail. The body will always pay a price for consuming medicines, which usually have toxic effects. The "side" effects are not the only toxic effect of medications. Doctors learn in their introductory pharmacology course in medical school that all medications are toxic in varying degrees, whether side effects are experienced or not. Pharmacology professors stress never to forget that. You cannot escape the immutable biological laws of cause and effect through ingesting medicinal substances.
If we don't make significant changes in the foods we choose to consumer, taking drugs prescribed by physicians will not improve our health or extend our lives. If we wish true health protection, we need to remove the cause. We must stop abusing ourselves with disease-causing foods.