Qsymia is a very exciting new weight loss drug approved by the FDA on July 17 2012. Qsymia is actually a combination of two different drugs, phentermine and topiramate, that are already approved and used widely. Phentermine is known as an appetite suppressant and Topiramate as an anti-seizure drug for epileptics. Qsymia was initially denied in October 2010 due to concerns about possible side effects (more below), and sent back for further testing. Although there are still some concerns, particularly when overused, the FDA decided the plethora of health problems associated with the exploding obesity epidemic are far worse.
What’s the big deal about Qsymia?
It’s been 13 years since the FDA last approved a diet drug. That was the notorious “Fen-phen”. Note the “phen” is short for the same Phentermine used in Qsymia. It has been used as an effective appetite suppressant for many years now, but is much more effective when combined with other drugs. In testing recognized by the FDA of 3,700 obese and overweight patients, average body weight loss of 9% was recorded for those taking the higher dosage of Qsymia.
How it works
Qsymia helps you lose weight through a few different ways. First of all, the phentermine works to decrease your appetite. It’s believed that it does this by increasing the level of leptin in your body. Leptin is a hormone that dramatically influences how hungry you feel, so it in essence controls your appetite.
The other drug found in Qsymia, topiramate, helps you feel fuller meaning food won’t be as tempting as it once was. Naturally, when you aren’t eating as much, you aren’t taking in as many calories. Though its main use is for controlling seizures, it’s widely known to have a side effect of weight loss.
The combination of all the above is proving to be a very effective formula for dropping a considerable amount of weight and losing body fat.
Are side effects worth the risk?
The weight loss doesn’t come with no strings attached, though. There’s a plethora of potential side effects, some more common than others and some more dangerous than others. It was for this reason that Qsymia was denied approval from the FDA in 2010. But considering the many potentially fatal “side effects” of being obese, it’s a balancing act they believe should be made on a case-by-case basis.
The most common side effects that you could experience while taking Qsymia are:
- Trouble sleeping
- A change in the way things taste or dry mouth
- Tingling in your hands or feet
There are other side effects that pose a much greater threat, but aren’t as common as those listed above. First of all, you may experience an increase in your rate at rest. This means you could just be sitting and watching TV when your heart starts racing out of the blue. If you experience something like this that lasts more than a minute or two, immediately seek medical attention.
Qsymia can also affect your vision. One of the most common vision problems that can occur while taking Qsymia is glaucoma. If you notice any change in eyesight or start having any kind of problems with your eyes, contact your doctor.
You should also be aware that Qsymia can cause new suicidal thoughts, mood swings and depression. If you already suffer from any of these then particularly pay attention to any increase in these thoughts or actions and notify your doctor if that should happen.
Who should take Qsymia
First and foremost, Qsymia should NEVER be taken by pregnant women or anyone who may be pregnant, even if a pregnancy test has confirmed a pregnancy or not. Qsymia can cause birth defects and the risk begins very early, which means it could affect your baby if you take Qsymia even before you know you’re pregnant.
Talk to your doctor about which birth control option is best for you while you’re taking Qsymia and continue to be tested each month for pregnancy. It should not be used while breastfeeding, either.
Other people who should not take Qsymia include:
- Those taking MAOI (antidepressant)
- Those who are allergic to any ingredient of Qsymia (including phentermine and topiramate)
- Those who have an overactive thyroid
Qsymia will only be prescribed if you have a BMI of 30 or more or a BMI of 27 with weight-related health problems. Only your doctor will be able to determine if Qsymia is a good choice for you after an in-depth medical review of past and current health.
Where to get Qsymia
Your doctor will prescribe Qsymia, but you won’t be able to get it from your doctor’s office. At first, Qsymia will only be available through select pharmacies that have received extensive training on the drug and its side effects. It will also be available straight from the company through mail order.
Qsymia is made available strictly through a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). This is mandated by the FDA to ensure patients, pharmacies and physicians all are fully aware of how the drug works and potential side effects.