AMA Fights Fat and Boosts Pharma with Obesity Decision

AMA Fights Fat and Boosts Pharma with Obesity Decision

June 21st, 2013 // 12:30 pm @

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This week, the American Medical Assn. stated that obesity is actually a disease. This is a controversial move that will probably boost demand for prescription diet drugs. The AMA is not able to require specific prescriptions, but the decision is a sign to doctors that they should get more serious against the fight against obesity.

AMA board member Patrice Harris said that recognizing that obesity is really a disease will alter how the health care community deals with this issue, which affects 1/3 of Americans. She noted that the AMA works to always improve health outcomes and is trying to cut down on heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Both disease are related to being overweight.

This obesity declaration came at the AMA meeting for 2013, and is coming just a few months after FDA approved the first new prescription diet pill for obesity in over 10 years. That move was after long debate at FDA on whether or not the new diet pills were completely safe, and whether the pills will not be properly prescribed. The new drugs are Belvia by Arena Pharmaceuticals and Qsymia by Vivius.

The recent FDA approvals do show that obesity is a quickly growing problem in America, and the acknowledgement by the AMA will mean the drugs will be prescribed more.

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Another boost to the use of the new drugs could come soon, as a bipartisan group of Congressmen are expected to pass a law that will mandate that Medicare must cover the new weight loss pills. It is possible that as many as 16 million Medicare patients could soon be using the new drugs.

The last set of new diet drugs came in the 1990s, with fen phen and Redux. There was a good deal of prescribing of those drugs, as people tried to get a quick drug fix to drop a few pounds.

Those drugs, though needed to be used with proper eating and exercise. That trend ended around 2000, when Redux and other related drugs were pulled because of lung and heart side effects.

The Meridia pill also was prescribed for a few years but eventually pulled for side effects, and the Xenical pill was a flop because it caused rather vile orange diarrhea.

But things have changed now with the AMA announcement. Arena Pharmaceuticals is marketing Belviq, which was delayed until the DEA stated that the drug is a Schedule 4 controlled drug, which indicates there is a low chance for abuse.

Another diet drug is called Contrave and is currently being developed by Orexigen. It has not gotten FDA approval yet because the firm still needs to do a large heart study that won’t be done until 2014.

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