Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Combination Drugs to Treat Obesity

With the recent approval of the two obesity drugs, Qsymia and Belviq, we have additional long term pharmacotherapy tools for weight loss treatment. Qsymia is the combination of the two drugs, Phentermine and Topiramate. Phentermine has been used as a weight loss treatment for some time, while Topiramate has been used to treat seizures. Combining Phentermine and Topiramate was found to be an effective obesity drug by Vivus, the maker of Qsymia. And a recent study is leading to the possibility of another combination weight loss drug.

Indiana University researchers, along with other investigators, combined estrogen molecules with molecules of the hormone, GLP-1 to produce a new substance that could lead to another combination weight loss drug. GLP-1 is produced in the digestive system. And estrogen is produced in a woman's ovaries. Both GLP-1 and estrogen have been found to be effective in treating obesity and type 2 diabetes.

However, the researchers found that combining estrogen and GLP-1 was even more effective in the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes, without many of the dangerous side effects associated with the individual substances. The combination, for example, shows a reduced risk of cancer and stroke, which is associated with estrogen treatment.

In what might be viewed as related research, Novo Nordisk, the maker of liraglutide, an analog of GLP-1, is investigating the drug as a weight loss treatment. Novo Nordisk is based in Denmark, and markets the FDA approved liraglutide as a treatment for type 2 diabetes under the name, Victoza. Novo Nordisk feels that the FDA’s approval of Qsymia and Belviq presents an opportunity for other weight loss drugs. Indeed, GLP-1 analogs could become important players in the area of weight loss treatments.

At any rate, with the FDA's approval of Qsymia and the Indiana University researchers actions, even more attention may be given to combining known substances for weight loss. With the continuing need for safe and effective weight loss drugs, we hope that researchers will endeavor to continue to look for pharmacotherapy options for weight loss providers and persons seeking weight loss.

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