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New weight loss drug not a game changer, doctors warn

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Buffalo: New weight loss drug not a game changer, doctors warn
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A new obesity drug is on the market claiming to help obese people lose weight fast. YNN's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.


Gwendolyn Barton from East Harlem has slimmed down dramatically. Not too long ago the grandmother tipped the scales at 210 pounds. She says she tried just about everything to lose weight -- including dieting and exercise -- but it didn't work.

"I needed to lose weight because I had a double knee replacement and I carried a lot of weight on the knees," Barton recalled.

So she tried the first new drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in more than a decade: Qsymia. During clinical trials of the drug she went from a size 14 to a size 8. Barton was one of about 2,000 people who were studied in the U.S.

Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, was involved in the studies.

"The trials of Qsymia shows people lost about 10 percent of their body weight," Aronne noted.

Qsymia is a combination of two drugs that have been around for a long time: Phentermine, which is commonly used as an appetite suppressant, and Topiramate, which is an anti-epilepsy drug. Together, researchers found that they reduce appetite and stimulate metabolism.

Some side effects associated with the drug are dizziness, light headedness, nausea, dry mouth, and altered taste.

But make no mistake, this prescription pill is no magic bullet. Doctors say it must be used in conjunction with a fat-restricted diet and regular exercise.

Qsymia is one of the first big name weight loss drugs since Redux and Fen-Phen hit the market in the late 1990s. After a lot of hype and fan-fare, the two drugs were abruptly removed from the market after a component in the drug was linked to a potentially fatal heart problem. Thousands of people who took the drugs filed lawsuits. Doctors say none of the medications in those drugs are in Qsymia. However, weight loss specialist Dr. Howard Shapiro has expressed some concerns.

"The other thing they say in their study is that you should take it for the rest of your life. I don't agree with that part of it at all," Shapiro said.

After losing 50 pounds, Gwen Barton is back on the drug again for another 12 weeks. She wants to shed about 40 more pounds and says the only side effect she's had is dry mouth.

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