“Death is the outcome we’re most concerned about avoiding.”

April 30, 2008 at 1:00 am (diets, media, weight loss)

Inside Drugmakers’ War on Fat

Bradbury watched a live simulcast as an FDA advisory panel grilled Sanofi executives over the memory loss, dizziness, depression, and other side effects reported by people who took Acomplia in clinical trials. Most worrisome, at least four people on the drug committed suicide.

The FDA demanded that Amylin explain why some patients in the pramlintide trials suffered hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood sugar.

Problems with weight-loss drugs date from the 1950s, when doctors began dosing overweight patients with Dexedrine, a form of speed that left people strung out and sometimes addicted.

But when patients began suffering damaged heart valves, fen-phen was hastily pulled from the market.

With Sanofi’s Acomplia, the major concern was suicide. One patient who took his life after using Acomplia was a 36-year-old man with no history of depression; another was a 77-year-old man who had been treated for depression 30 years earlier.

Phentermine was never implicated in the heart-valve issues that caused fen-phen to be recalled, and it remained on the market as a solo treatment. But it can make people so jumpy they feel like crawling out of their skin.

Topiramate, an epilepsy treatment that J&J tried to repurpose as an obesity cure, has an even more disturbing record: At the high doses required to promote substantial weight loss, many patients lost their ability to think straight. That’s because topiramate slows the rapid firing of neurons in the brain—a dulling effect that’s wonderful for controlling seizures but that can turn non-epileptics into bumbling dimwits, doctors say.

After it released a small 12-week study, press reports focused on a disturbing revelation: About 30% of patients on the drug reported psychiatric side effects such as depression, vs. 18% who were taking the placebo. Amatruda says the side effects were clearly worse in the patients who took the highest doses of the drug, and that the company has decided not to seek FDA approval for the higher doses.

Hey, are you fat? Well, modern medicine has a solution for you. Maybe. If you’re cool with shitting yourself, being unable to think, developing problems with your heart valve, or killing yourself, that is.

The latest obesity research is centering on an increasingly popular scientific premise: The human mind is all but hard-wired to hold the body at a certain weight. When people take a drug that helps them shed pounds, or even when they lose weight with exercise, an intricate tangle of brain signals kicks in to tell the body it’s in danger. Metabolism slows to help the body preserve itself, and hunger intensifies. Most scientists have come to believe that obesity is not a disease of gluttony so much as it is an unfortunate roll of the genetic dice, made harder to fight in Western nations by the growing availability of cheap food. “Some people are preordained to have a higher body weight than others. It’s normal’ for them,” says Rudy Leibel, a professor and obesity researcher at Columbia University. That may be why most people who slim down with drugs plateau after they lose just 5% to 8% of their weight: When a drug blocks one of the brain’s appetite pathways, another goes into overdrive to tell the body to find food, right now.

Or you could just, you know, be fat. The way your body is meant to be. The way you were made to be.

But there’s not a lot of money in people just being fat, is there?

These quotes are from the same article. In one breath they talk about how dangerous– how deadly, even– diet drugs are. And in the next breath they quote a scientist talking about how some humans are just fat and that’s the way they are.

Wake up! Diet drugs, diets, pills, concoctions, shakes, prepared meals, calorie counting books, diet websites, diet books… they don’t exist because they’re healthy, they exist because they make money. You can be happy and fat. You can be healthy and fat. In fact, it looks like you’re more likely to be happy and healthy and alive if you’re fat than you will be if you take diet drugs.

Stop buying into the diet machine. You don’t benefit from it. You just line the pockets of somebody else.

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