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Will Weight Loss Drugs Benefit Obese Patients?

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:24am
While some doctors do agree upon the difficulty to help overweight or obese patients lose weight successfully by taking weight loss drugs alone, others would think that the few kilos loss would make a significant difference for patients suffering from heart disease or diabetes problems. Nevertheless, those people who take the drugs for cosmetic reasons may not see much benefit.

A study carried out by researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada revealed that patients on weight loss drugs might lose little more than their money, and yet face many unpleasant side effects. The report, which was published in the “British Medical Journal” on November 16, 2007, indicated that close to 20,000 patients, weighing an average of 100 kilos lost less than 5 kilos because of these weight loss drugs. These patients had been on one of 3 weight loss drugs, Xenical, Reductil and Accomplia for one to 4 years.

The meta-analysis using data from 30 clinical trials found that up to 30 percent of the patients on Xenical had unpleasant digestive and intestinal side effects, such as incontinence. On average, they lost 3 kilos.

Patients who took Reductil lost 4 kilos and had improved cholesterol levels, but up to 20 percent of the patients suffered from high blood pressure, raised pulse rates, insomnia and nausea.

Accomplia was most effective as patients taking this drug lost the most weight, 5 kilos on average along with improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Nevertheless, the 6 percent of the patients had an increased risk of mood disorders.

In fact, another study reported also on November 16, 2007 in medical journal “The Lancet that patients who were prescribed Accomplia were very likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and even suicidal tendencies.

The worldwide annual sales of these 3 medicines is closed to US$1.2 billion. These drugs are meant for severely obese people, and many of them suffer from or are at higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Despite the side effects, which were explicitly listed by the drug manufacturers, many doctors do prescribed them to selected patients. According to their argument, fat people who lose 4 kilos could cut their risk of getting diabetes by 30 to 40 percent, and for those already suffer from diabetes, 4 kilos loss in weight would cut their blood sugar level and their risk of getting heart disease.
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