Annette R. Smith profile image

Qsymia Obesity Drug Aids Weight Loss

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug Qsymia for chronic weight management. Learn about the weight loss benefits and potential side effects.

Used correctly, diet pills can aid weight loss
See all 2 photos
Used correctly, diet pills can aid weight loss
Source: National Institutes of Health

New Hope for the Obese

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new prescription drug called Qsymia (Kyoo-sim-ee-uh). It is the most effective weight loss pill that the FDA has considered in recent years.

The July 2012 approval came less than a month after the agency approved another drug called Belviq. Qsymia and Belviq are the first weight loss drugs approved by federal regulators in more than a decade.

Qsymia is manufactured by Vivus Inc., a California-based drug development company. Originally called Qnexa, Qsymia received overwhelming support from an FDA advisory panel in February 2012. The panel strongly recommended its approval for the treatment of obesity, one of the most important health concerns in America today.

Once merely an aesthetic issue, obesity is now recognized as a disease itself. Excessive weight greatly increases the risk of health problems like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression.

Qsymia combines two already approved prescription drugs: a stimulant called phentermine, the “phen” part of the controversial fen-phen diet drug, and an anti-seizure medication called topiramate. Qsymia is available as a controlled release capsule that is taken once a day.

How Does the Qsymia Obesity Drug Work?

Diet pills cannot cure obesity, and they are not meant for long term or rapid weight loss. However, they can be a valuable diet aid when combined with exercise and healthy eating. Obesity drugs like Qsymia work in a number of ways.

Like nutritional supplements that are formulated for weight loss, Qsymia curbs hunger, boosts metabolism, and creates a feeling of fullness. The FDA approved the drug for obese people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30.

Qsymia works best with a healthy lifestyle.
See all 2 photos
Qsymia works best with a healthy lifestyle.
Source: Centers for Disease Control

Overweight people with a BMI greater than 27 can also Qsymia if they have weight-related problems such as high cholesterol or hypertension. Diabetics, or those who may develop diabetes, may also benefit from the drug.

Study participants who combined Qsymia with healthy lifestyle changes lost more than 10 percent of their body weight after using the drug for one year. While this may seem like a modest amount of weight loss, Qsymia is twice as effective as Belviq and other diet pills.

Potential Side Effects

Like all prescription drugs, Qsymia has the potential for unwanted side effects. Dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, insomnia, and taste disorders are the most common adverse effects of this drug.

Qsymia is not approved for pregnant women, and it is not recommended for people who have glaucoma, thyroid problems, or heart disease.

The FDA approved Qsymia with a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which attempts to educate doctors and patients about the risks associated with using the drug. Due to government restrictions, Qsymia is only dispensed in special certified pharmacies.

Reference Sources

Medical Disclaimer

The information presented in this article is not intended as health or medical advice, nor is it a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment by a qualified medical professional.


© 2012 Annette R. Smith Last updated on September 1, 2013

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Comments 4 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 2 years ago from Orlando, FL Level 6 Commenter

Most people want a short cut to losing weight. There is no short cut. The most efficient way to lose weight is through diet and exercise, yet that requires motivation. Maybe the FDA should approve a daily brisk walk and others will listen:)


Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from Orlando, Florida Hub Author

Hi, Linda! Thanks for reading my article and taking a moment to comment. I think the FDA approved Qsymia and Belviq out of desperation, in response to the growing obesity epidemic. The drugs are touted as effective weight loss aids, but you're right: they can't replace a healthy diet and exercise.


Sue Bailey profile image

Sue Bailey 19 months ago from South Yorkshire, UK

Very interesting Annette. I haven't heard whether it is available in the UK yet. I might be a good candidate - I am diabetic and have thyroid problems so find it difficult to lose weight.


Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 19 months ago from Orlando, Florida Hub Author

Thank you, Sue. I do not know if Qsymia is available in the UK and under what brand name. It is certainly an interesting topic to research, and I hope my information has been useful for you. Best wishes in finding an effective weight loss plan that takes into account your diabetes and thyroid problems.

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