Real Quick: FDA murders obesity drug research, shows no remorse

By | February 1, 2011

Hey, remember Contrave, the awkwardly-named Gleaming Hope For The Future Of All Diet Drugs? Remember how the FDA advisory panel recommended the FDA approve it in spite of lingering doubts about possible cardiovascular damage, and how we all need our cardiovascular systems in tip-top shape in order to live? Remember how the panelists were pretty candid that they were pushing for approval not because the drug actually worked, but because they were worried that rejecting it would kill obesity drug research? Oh, go read my post on that again, I’ll wait.

Hey, welcome back. It turns out that today the FDA has rejected — yes! rejected! — Contrave, telling Orexigen — the drug’s manufacturer — not to even bother crawling back with flowers and chocolates and a mouth full of apologies until they’ve run a large-scale placebo-controlled study proving that Contrave does not cause heart problems. Given that such a task would take years, it seems like Orexigen won’t be calling on the FDA again anytime soon.

As predicted, this will likely have a chilling effect on any new fat-drug research. In Forbes, Matthew Herper writes: “The field of obesity drugs is effectively dead.”

The clear lesson is that weight-loss medicines simply do not have enough of a benefit to justify any risk – and that this makes getting them approved just about impossible.


Weight-loss drugs are often appealing to individual investors, who are seduced by the idea of a mass-market pill to help people get skinny. But the fact that lots of people would take a drug to lose weight if one existed does not mean that such a medicine can be invented or approved by regulators. A lack of scientific knowledge, high regulatory hurdles, and the fact that these failures will keep drug companies from investing in new obesity research will probably mean years, if not decades, before another weight-loss drug makes it to market. (Source)

I’ve said it before, but hopefully this time it’ll be awhile before I need to say it again: diet drugs don’t work. The companies that research and manufacture them know it, the FDA knows it, and now you know it too. They don’t work because body size is a complicated issue influenced by a matrix of factors. Given that even drug companies motivated by enormous profits cannot find a drug-based solution, it seems more obvious than ever that weight loss is a convoluted process, if it’s even possible in the long term.

It’s a shame that this realization came too late for the people who have died or suffered permanent heart damage as a result of taking these drugs in the name of improving their health.


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