New diet drug approved by the FDA - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

New diet drug approved by the FDA

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WASHINGTON (WKOW) -- A new diet drug is on the market starting Tuesday September 18, 2012. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made the diet drug Qsymia is available by prescription.

Data presented by the manufacturer of the drug, Vivus, showed that it helped patients lose about 10 percent of their body weight. Qsymia is a combination of two medications that have long been used in weight management. One is an appetite suppressant and the other reduces cravings for food.

An advisory panel voted 20-2 to approve the drug in February. This marks the first time the FDA voted to approve a weight-loss drug in more than 13 years. It's the FDA's latest move to give doctors and their patients more tools to fight excessive weight gain and obesity rates.

Contrary to other weight-loss products, the FDA has indicated Qsymia as an approved product for female patients of child-bearing age.  Patients in that category can use the drug as long as they have a negative pregnancy test before and while taking it, and use effective birth control consistently while taking Qsymia.

About one-third of Americans are obese, and many have chronic, expensive medical conditions as a result, such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. Until recently, the array of available options has been frustratingly sparse for many doctors and their patients: diet, exercise and, for those overweight enough to qualify, bariatric surgery.

Doctors have mixed reviews of the drug due to the potential for side effects. They point back to drugs, such as fen-phen, approved by the FDA. The drug was later withdrawn from the market over concerns about heart risks and other dangerous side effects. Makers say, the drug should be used in combination with good exercise and healthy food.

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