Three diet drugs in final stages of research and development

Three prescription diet drugs are in the final stages of development. According to USA Today, the drugs' manufacturers still have to submit their new drug applications to FDA and go through a rigorous review and approval process.

Three prescription diet drugs are in the final stages of development. According to USA Today, the drugs’ manufacturers still have to submit their new drug applications to FDA and go through a rigorous review and approval process. If the medications get the government’s approval, it will be a year or more before they are available to the public.

The three diet drugs in the final stages of research are Qnexa from Vivus, Lorcaserin hydrochloride from Arena Pharmaceuticals, and Contrave from Orexigen. The drugs are intended for people who are obese, about 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight, or who are overweight and have risk factors such as high blood pressure.

Qnexa incorporates low doses of two previously approved prescription medications: phentermine, which reduces appetite, and topiramate, which increases the sense of fullness. Most common side effects are dry mouth and tingling in the fingers and toes.

In two separate studies, the mean weight loss was 13.2% (30 lbs) and 14.7% (37 lbs) for patients who were treated with full-dose Qnexa for 56 weeks.

Lorcaserin works on brain chemistry to induce a sense of fullness. Patients who stayed on the drug combined with lifestyle changes for 1 year lost an average of 17 pounds. About two-thirds of Lorcaserin patients lost at least 5% of their body weight; about a third of those who took the placebo and made lifestyle changes accomplished this. The most responsive 25% of patients lost an average of 35 pounds. The most frequent side effect is headaches.

Contrave combines two drugs now on the market – bupropion, an antidepressant and smoking cessation medication, and naltrexone, used for alcohol and opioid addition. It works to fight food cravings and improves the ability to control eating. In three separate trails, patients lost between 8.1% to 11.5% (18 to 25 lbs) of their starting body weight after a year on the medication. The most common side effects are nausea, constipation and headache.