Weight Loss Drug Approved by FDA
By: Janalee Heinemann, MSW
PWSA (USA) Director of Research & Medical Affairs
As many of you are probably aware, there is a new weight loss drug, Qsymia, just approved by the FDA. The weight loss was more with this drug than with two others recently reviewed by the FDA and one approved (Lorcaserin/Belviq) that was not nearly as remarkable regarding weight loss. Qsymia is a combination of two older drugs that have long been known to help with weight loss: phentermine (the safer half of the old fen-phen drug that was banned) and topirimate – a drug that was studied back in April 2000 under a PWSA (USA) grant, “Open-Label Pilot Study of Topirimate in Adults with Prader-Willi Syndrome.” Topirimate is an anticonvulsant drug that makes people feel more satiated after eating, which is why we sponsored the study by Nathan A. Shapira, M.D., Ph.D. The study showed that Topirimate did not significantly change the calories consumed, Body Mass Index, or decreased self-reported appetite in PWS. In addition, there were no significant changes in compulsions. Surprisingly though, Topirimate treatment resulted in a clinically significant improvement in the self-injury (i.e., skin-picking) that is characteristic of PWS.
The researchers of Qsymia state that it targets multiple brain signals that drive people to overeat. We cannot say at this time if it will be effective with PWS. Please know that we will keep you informed of any new outcomes on this and other obesity drugs that might be helpful with PWS. Currently, I have been working informally with two pharmaceutical companies who are working on potential products that might impact on PWS, but as with all pharmaceutical companies, there are always strict agreements of confidentiality. We are also working with FPWR on financially supporting the Best Idea Grants post the hyperphagia conference with 2012 One Small Step funds. We never forget that the #1 deadly enemy of PWS is the appetite.