The weight loss drug Sibutramine, better known as Reductil had its license suspended by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The agency recommended that the drug should neither be prescribed by doctors nor dispensed by pharmacists. The reason for this was that a trial of 10,000 people followed for six years showed an increased rate of heart attacks and strokes in the group taking Reductil compared to a control group. The EMA has concluded that these risks outweigh the benefits.
Whilst the drug remains licensed in other countries at this stage, the end cannot be far off. Even if other government agencies do not follow suite, the manufacturer may well pull the drug off the shelves on potential liability grounds. This trial result would make a liability action difficult to defend.
This drug will not, in my opinion, be missed for the simple reason that it does not do much. Those taking it lose only marginally more weight than those taking a placebo and the effect is not long lasting.
This drug now joins a list of other weight loss drugs, which have been taken off the market because the risks were greater than the benefits. At the same time the race to find a new pharmaceutical agent for the “obesity” crisis goes on. There is a cash prize on offer. It is estimated that Americans spend $59 billion each year on weight reduction products and services. Only a small part of this is spent on pharmaceuticals.
There are currently three new drugs lining up at the FDA for regulatory approval. Apparently they have shown “promising” results in one-year trials.
Whilst that is fine, a one-year trial will not show risks, which might appear after three to five years. The trial, which has led to the decision on Reductil, was done over six years.
Here is something to think about. If it was not a pill that caused you to become overweight, why would you expect the solution to be in a pill? The basic fact is that we put on weight when our energy intake (calories) exceeds our energy expenditure. Now, I know the calories in, calories out idea are not popular in some quarters. It is true that some people have different metabolic types and do better with some foods than others. It is also true that to reduce weight, combinations of foods, times when you eat, and your emotions play a part.
The bottom, line though is that whilst there are a vast number of roads to travel, the final common pathway has to be an alteration in the energy equation. This is not medicine; this is a basic law of physics and cannot be gotten around.
Therefore lets be honest about weight. The problem is not your bones, your genes, your family, the take away shop down the road, your job or any one of a thousand other excuses. The problem is the energy equation of energy taken in compared to energy used up. When you bring it back to basics the solution is simple. It is to change your eating patterns. It is about putting the fuels into your body that it actually needs. It is about reducing processed foods and eating more real foods.
What you have created, you have the power to change-if you want to.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.