News of a new weight loss drug called Adipotide surfaced early last year, but there haven’t been many updates since July regarding the status of the drug’s development. As reports suggest, Adipotide is still in trial phase being tested in clinical studies on humans. If approved, it would join Qsymia, Belviq and several others in the ‘miracle’ weight loss prescription drug line-up.
Adipotide was created by Dr. Wadih Arap and Renata Pasqualini as a form of cancer treatment as it was designed to starve cancer cells of blood supply prohibit them from growing. However, the effects of Adipotide have actually shown it starves fat cells of blood, which forces them to die and be reabsorbed into the body.
Though successful initial trials have been completed on rats and monkeys, some negative side effects have been noted, including dehydration and small kidney lesions that left untreated could lead to kidney failure.
Diets in Review resident pharmacist Dr. Sarah G Khan reports that Adipotide will be marketed as an injection into the subcutaneous layer of the skin, administered directly into the fat. While this may seem more effective, she believes this could be a potential downside as this method is not as user friendly.
“From looking at this drug over a year ago, I saw in their data that the initial results were great, but when the drug was discontinued blood flow resumed to those once blocked off fat cells and weight gain again started to occur,” said Khan. “I find it odd that they are using Adipotide in conjunction with treatment for another condition – prostate cancer.”
As for whether she would recommend Adipotide as a safe weight loss method, she’s leaning toward no, erring on the side of more natural approaches.
“I honestly believe that if you are willing to go to your doctor’s office and get an injection then you would be willing to go to a nutritionist or a personal trainer,” she said. “I can’t even imagine what the cost of this medication will be but I expect, if approved, it will be expensive due to the way it’s administered. I have no doubt that people will be willing to pay a pretty penny for it. The drug mechanism seems similar to liposuction or Liposonix, which involve the fat being sucked out. However, proper nutrition still has to be practiced to prevent those fat cells from forming and growing again.”
Based on how poorly the weight loss drug Qsymia has been received thus far, some have wondered if there’s currently even a demand for drugs like Adipotide. Qysmia was released in summer 2019 and is still in what is called a REMS program, or Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies, according to Dr. Khan. This is due to the potential risk for women of childbearing age to experience birth defects if they become pregnant. Though initial sales of Qsymia were lower than expected, the drug did see increases in late 2019. And Dr. Khan suspects this may be a result of the drug only being available through certified mail order pharmacies. The general public is not yet able to buy Qsymia at a retail pharmacy, but this could change as post-marketing studies become available, meaning sales could still go up.
Are Diet Drugs the Answer?
2019 has been a milestone year for the weight loss drug industry, with the FDA granting approval to both Loraserin (Belviq) and Qsymia – the first drugs to be approved since Alli in 1999. In light of these events and an ongoing discussion regarding the “ultimate weight loss solution,” we asked Dr. Khan what she believes Americans really need to keep in mind moving into the New Year.
“Americans need to get back to basics and start making time for themselves,” she said. “Being too busy and taking the easy way out leads to take-out, fast food and pre-made food, which is loaded with salt, fat and calories.”
Her dietary recommendations are very similar to the DASH diet, emphasizing low-carb, low-fat, and high-protein unless a person has kidney issues. She also recommends drinking lots of water, avoiding processed foods, eating at least 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume, and exercising for 150 minutes a week (being careful not to let more than 48 hours lapse between workouts). A combination of strength, flexibility and cardiovascular routines is ideal.
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