On Wednesday, the panel recommended that a similar drug, Meridia, either be taken off the market or be limited to patients without a history or risk of cardiovascular disease, which previous studies correlate with the drug. The panel has also advised against Vivus’ Qnexa, which combines the appetite suppressant phentermine and the anticonvulsant topiramate. While the FDA does not have to carry out the advisory panel’s recommendations, it often does. “The only other weight-loss drug on the market is Xenical, available over-the-counter as Alli. Both the prescription and OTC version of these drug partially block the absorption of dietary fat,” noted ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan.
“It is unfortunate that the advisory panel seems to be tacking towards the conservative risk side as opposed to the benefits side,” laments ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, adding that “the obesity epidemic is quite serious, whether it’s increasing, decreasing or remaining the same. We believe medications can be one part of the battle against obesity. Of course, they have to be proven safe and effective.”