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Diet drugs in the past and in the pipeline

Updated: June 27, 2012 2:48PM

Here’s a look at the current diet drugs and the history of some weight-loss medications.

On the market now: Two prescription drugs used to treat obesity include phentermine, which suppresses appetite; and orlistat (Xenical), which keeps some dietary fat from being absorbed by the intestine. Orlistat is sold in a lower dose over-the-counter version as Alli.

Pulled off the market: In 1997, two diet drugs were pulled from the market -- fenfluramine (part of the popular fen-phen combination) and dexfenfluramine (Redux) -- because of concern over heart-valve problems.

In 2010, Abbott Laboratories removed sibutramine (Meridia) from the market because of concerns of an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Didn’t get government approval: In 2007, an FDA advisory panel rejected the experimental diet pill rimonabant (Acomplia) from Sanofi-Aventis, which decreased people’s drive to eat, after hearing testimony that it increased the risk of suicidal thoughts, even in patients without a history of depression.

FDA reviewing now: By July 17, the FDA is expected to decide whether to approve Qnexa from Vivus. When used in combination with diet and exercise, patients lose about 10 percent of their weight on the proposed diet medication.

In 2011, the FDA asked for a clinical trial on the cardiovascular safety of Contrave from Orexigen. Contrave combines two drugs now on the market -- bupropion, an antidepressant and smoking cessation medication, and naltrexone, currently used for alcohol and opioid addiction. The diet pill works to fight food cravings and improves the ability to control eating.

Source: USA TODAY research

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