If you find it hard to lose weight through diet and exercise alone, you now have two new pills to fight pounds: Qsymia and Belviq, the first diet drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since orlistat (Xenical) was given the green light in 1999.
Qsymia, formerly known as Qnexa, combines the appetite-suppressing stimulant phentermine, which has long been used for short-term weight loss, and topiramate, a satiety-inducing anti-seizure medication used to treat epilepsy. During trials, participants taking the drug lost 8.4% to 10.6% of their body weight. Belviq controls appetite by activating brain receptors for serotonin, which triggers feelings of fullness. Users without Type 2 diabetes lost at least 5% of their starting weight over a year, compared with 23% among those taking a placebo.
The drugs are approved only for obese adults with a body mass index of 30 or higher, or those with a BMI of 27 or higher as long as they have at least one weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol.