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Obesity Issues: US FDA approves new drug to fight obesity

US FDA approves new drug to fight obesity

A new drug to treat moderate to severe binge-eating disorder called Vyvanse was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the fifth obesity-fighting drug to gain approval in just two years.

The move comes on the heels of the FDA's approval of a first-of-its-kind medical device to fight obesity.

Up to 30% of individuals with obesity may be binge eaters to some degree, according to Dr. Susan McElroy, an obesity and binge eating disorder (BED) treatment specialist who took part in the clinical research on Vyvanse.

While crossover exists between obesity and BED, there is a difference between the two conditions, says Dr. McElroy, and only seven to 10% of those seeking treatment for obesity meet clinical criteria for BED.

The new drug is not approved for weight loss, nor should it replace treatment for obesity, says Dr. McElroy, who calls Vyvanse a safe and effective tool for treating BED.

Nevertheless, BED can hinder success in behavioral weight loss programs and even that of bariatric surgery, so the drug should be considered an important tool in reducing obesity, according to Dr. Martin Binks of The Obesity Society (TOS) in the US and Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University.

In mid-January, the FDA approved a weight loss gadget that nullifies hunger nerves between the brain and the stomach.

Called the Maestro Rechargeable System, it's the first device the FDA has approved for obesity since 2007.

The system is made up of a rechargeable electrical pulse generator that connects to wire leads and electrodes that are surgically implanted in the stomach.

It works by sending electrical pulses to block the abdominal vagus nerve which tells the brain when the stomach is empty.

In the wake of the FDA's approval of new anti-obesity drugs lorcaserin (Belviq), phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia), naltrexone/bupropion (Contrave) and liraglutide (Saxenda), The Obesity Society has created the first pharmacological guideline for obesity treatment.

The guideline, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism on Jan 15, is intended to provide health practitioners a roadmap for treating obesity by means of drugs. – AFP Relaxnews