September 8, 2011

Drug Combination Trial Yields Promising Results for Obesity Management


The Duke University Medical Center conducted a research to investigate a combination of various medications targeting obesity, migraine and epilepsy. Findings revealed that the combined medications led to about 10 percent weight loss among the patients, who were obese.

Furthermore, the study discovered that treatment using various drugs containing phentermine and topiramate gave more or less the same therapeutic effect in normalizing blood pressure and hemoglobin. Blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and inflammatory markers also showed a marked improvement.

“Patients receiving this combination experienced 8.6 percent greater weight loss, on average, compared to those patients receiving placebo,” says Kishore M. Gadde, M.D., the director of the clinical trial. “This kind of weight loss, coupled with significant reductions in cardiometabolic risk factors represents a potentially important advancement in the management of obesity.”

At the moment, only orlistat is readily available for the management of obesity. It is manufactured for prescription under the name Xenical, and can be bought over-the-counter under the name Alli. Orlistat is quite effective, promoting seven pounds more weight loss compared to other treatments.

The study involved 2487 patients who were obese and had two or more conditions, such as diabetes or any heart problem. Phentermine was given, which is ideal for short-term treatment of obesity. Topiramate was also administered, which is a drug used to manage epilepsy and treat migraines.

At present, drug company Vivus is waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to give the approval to market the combination drug therapy consisting both phentermine and topiramate. Vivus intends to manufacture the therapy under the brand name Qnexa. However, the FDA warned the public against the use of topiramate among pregnant women, whose babies are at high risk for developing congenital defects, such as a cleft lip or palate. Gadde says otherwise, defending that 34 pregnant women who were part of the Qnexa trials had no babies born with birth defects.

Gadde also suggests that more treatments focusing on managing obesity are needed. “Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. For obese patients who have failed to achieve meaningful weight loss with diet and exercise, we have just one treatment before jumping to bariatric surgery. We need more treatment options.”

About Anna

Anna is a contributing freelance writer for HealthWise Journal. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing and currently pursuing my Master's Degree in Maternal and Child Health Nursing.

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