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11.04.2014
Contrave was initially rejected by the agency in 2011 even though a panel of physicians had recommended the FDA to approve the treatment.
The other two weight loss drugs that earned FDA approval in 2010 are Vivus Inc.'s Qsymia and Belviq, marketed by Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. Pigs May Help Us Cure Diabetes: Swine Pancreas Transplant Key To TreatmentThe pigs have the key to cure diabetes.
Belviq, a weight-loss drug from Arena Pharmaceuticals, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012.
Originally published on January 8, 2015 8:07 am In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new obesity drug, Saxenda, the fourth prescription medicine the agency has given the green light to fight obesity since 2012. Swine pancreas transplant was reported to treat three patients with type 1 diabetes in China. With the agency's approval of Saxenda in December, there are four new weight-loss pills available. But even though two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, there's a good chance their insurer won't cover Saxenda or other anti-obesity drugs. The drug, Orexigen Therapeutics's Contrave, was approved to help obese or overweight individuals with chronic weight management.


However, the company started a new trial and in this trial, the researchers found that Contrave was not associated with increasing a patient's risk of heart attack or other adverse events.
The health benefits of using obesity drugs to lose weight — improvements in blood sugar and risk factors for heart disease, among other things — may not be immediately apparent. These patients must have at least one health condition, such as hypertension or type 2 diabetes and should be exercising and dieting healthily as well. Steve Miller, the chief medical officer at Express Scripts, which manages the prescription drug benefits for thousands of companies. Miller estimates that about a third of companies don't cover obesity drugs at all, a third cover all FDA-approved weight-loss drugs, and a third cover approved drugs, but with restrictions to limit their use. Part of the reluctance by Medicare and private insurers to cover weight-loss drugs stems from serious safety problems with diet drugs in the past, including the withdrawal in 1997 of fenfluramine, part of the fen-phen diet drug combination that was found to damage heart valves.
But as the link between obesity and increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other serious medical problems has become clearer, prescription drugs are seen as having a role to play in addressing the obesity epidemic. Obesity accounts for 21 percent of annual medical costs in the United States, or $190 billion, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Health Economics.
The recently approved drugs— Belviq, Qsymia, Contrave and Saxenda—work by suppressing appetite, among other things.


In conjunction with diet and exercise, people typically lose between 5 and 10 percent of their body weight, research shows, modest weight loss but sufficient to meaningfully improve health. The drugs are generally recommended for people with a body mass index of 30 or higher, the threshold for obesity. They may also be appropriate for overweight people with BMIs in the high 20s if they have heart disease, diabetes or other conditions. Susan Pisano, a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, says the variability of insurer coverage of obesity drugs "relates to issues of evidence of effectiveness and evidence of safety." Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Research Center at Boston University, says many of the patients she treats can't afford to pay up to $200 a month out of pocket for obesity drugs.



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