Dr. Randy Martin: While there have been several diet pills introduced to the market, unfortunately, all have had significant side effects or have not been effective. Now, there is another new diet pill that’s being closely looked at and preliminary evidence suggests that it may actually help with weight loss. I spoke with Dr. Joe Miller, III – a cardiologist and an expert in preventive medicine – to learn not only if this new pill is effective, but also if it has any significant side effects.
“This is yet another drug trial where folks are trying to find the ‘silver bullet,’” says Joseph Miller, III, M.D., preventive cardiology, Piedmont Hospital. “Researchers have taken two common medications that, in the past, were proven to help people lose weight, but had side effects. This time, they took much lower doses of each of these two drugs and combined them into one pill. The lower dosage helps offset some of the side effects that commonly occurred with these two medications.”
The two drugs used in the trial are phentermine, a stimulant often used for those with hyperactivity disorders, and topiramate, an anti-seizure medication. One of the observed side effects of both has been weight loss.
Researchers tested the two different dosages of the combination pill and found that both dosages, when taken for almost a year, led to more weight loss than the placebo pill, with those taking the highest combination dosage losing the most weight. Additionally, those taking both doses saw a decrease in their blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, as well as their blood sugar.
“This is a significant finding,” says Dr. Miller, “I think one of the key things about this drug is that it may be a way to help people get started losing the weight – but the real goal is to get them to change their lifestyle.
“This drug is promising because so often, once people lose a little weight, they feel better and find exercise easier,” Dr. Miller continued.
There were side effects seen with both dosages, which included dry mouth and a pins and needles tingling sensation. However, patients on the higher dose of the drug did notice some increased sensation of anxiety and a mild increased risk of depression. The Food & Drug Administration has asked the drug maker for additional safety studies before it will approve the drug for use.”
Dr. Martin: While this new combination drug may not be the silver bullet for weight loss, it does seem, with these preliminary studies, to show some promise in helping to ‘jump start’ people to losing weight and improving those all important risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. But the bottom line, as Dr. Miller stressed, is really lifestyle changes and that really involves exercising regularly and eating a proper diet.