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Obesity Drugs Linked to Cardiovascular Problems

May 20, 2012
Colson Hicks Eidson

Obesity is an epidemic in this country, but would you risk further damage to your health by taking a potentially harmful obesity drug? That is a question that a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel considered in March when it met to discuss stricter approval guidelines for obesity drugs. Federal regulators are concerned about the link between obesity drugs and cardiovascular problems in users. At the panel’s conclusion, it voted to recommend studies on the link between cardiovascular risk and obesity drugs.

You might remember Fen Phen back in the late 1990’s? After only a short time on the market, reports began flooding in linking it to pulmonary hypertension and heart valve problems. In the end result, makers of Fen Phen paid over $13 billion dollars in damages to victims. Since then, Xenical is the only FDA-approved obesity drug on the market.

Currently, the FDA requires that drug companies conduct at least a year-long study of overweight people to determine whether they lose weight using the proposed obesity drug compared to patients in a placebo group. One proposal recommends that drug manufacturers conduct two-year studies and demonstrate a zero risk of fatal injuries or problems before releasing the obesity drug to the public.

One member of the panel recommended that the FDA not focus solely on cardiovascular risks, as it is just one of many harmful side effects of obesity drugs.