Dec. 26, 2012 -- Sales of the prescription weight loss drug Qsymia, the first such drug to get the FDA's OK in 13 years, are increasing, despite earlier reports of sluggish interest.
For the week ending Dec. 7, more than 2,000 new prescriptions for Qsymia were filled, according to Source Healthcare Analytics, a provider of pharmaceutical market data. That compares to 1,163 filled prescriptions for the week ending Nov. 23.
Depending on who you talk to, the drug, which went on sale in mid-September, is a godsend or a disaster.
Gwen Barton, 57, of New York, participated in a Qsymia clinical trial. She dropped 50 pounds in 18 months. She gained back half of that after the trial ended, then started back on the pill in early December.
The pounds came off again. "I have lost 12 pounds so far and I'm very happy,'' she says. She wants to shed another 40 pounds on her 5-foot-5-inch frame to get to 140 pounds.
Barton offered to share her story through the public relations firm for Vivus, the maker of Qsymia.
When the FDA approved the drug earlier in 2012, Sidney Wolfe, MD, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, called the decision ''reckless.''
His opinion hasn't changed, he says. "The history of diet drugs is a disaster," he says.
Phentermine is an appetite suppressant. (It was the ''phen'' part of the popular weight loss combination pill fen-phen. After reports of lung problems and heart valve damage surfaced, related to the ''fen'' or fenfluramine, the FDA requested fenfluramine's withdrawal from market in 1997).
Topiramate may work by suppressing appetite and helping you feel full, according to the drugmaker.