White Paper — Jon Otero

White Paper: Qnexa and Finding Safe Ways to Fight Obesity

Topic Background

A big obstacle in the way of optimal public health in the United States is the overwhelming presence of obesity. Weight has become a huge concern across the nation. When viewing infomercials, it’s nearly impossible to overlook advertisements that promise weight loss. There are tons of solutions presented that can be categorized as  surgeries, diets, work out plans, exercise machines, and drugs. There are pros and cons to each of the strategies, and the result is a large group of large people too afraid of invasive surgery and drugs, but too incapable of efficient exercise and diet. For almost a century now, pharmaceutical companies have been trying to yield effective drugs that combat obesity without sacrificing health in the process. In fact, no anti-obesity drug has been approved by the FDA since 1999. Recently, Vivus has been trying to win the approval of the FDA with their drug cocktail, Qnexa. Qnexa is a combination of two other drugs: phentermine and topiramate. Phentermine, an amphetamine, targets appetite, while the other’s purpose is to make the drug user feel fuller. Each has its list of side effects and the FDA still has yet to approve Qnexa because of fears that it may have dangerous side effects.

Topiramine and Phentermine 

To reiterate, Qnexa is a combination of two other drugs phentermine and topiramate. Phentermine was used in a previous drug, fen-phen, which was banned due to the damaging effects it had on the heart valves of individuals. However, phentermine was not the cause of the danger. It was actually the fenfluramine component that was proven to be so dangerous. Topiramine is dangerous for women who are pregnant because the chance increases for the child to be born with a cleft palate. The reason why Qnexa was declined by the FDA was because of fear of heart disease and the probability increase of having a child born with a cleft palate defect if taken while pregnant.

Counterintuitive Note

The FDA has declined a majority of the drugs to treat obesity, including Qnexa, because they cause some sort of heart disease. However, being obese is already harmfully affecting the heart health over a third of the American population while endangering these individuals of high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.

Effectiveness of the Drug

In studies with Qnexa, not only did people taking the drug significantly lose weight, they also benefited from things like decreased blood pressure. Unlike the many gimmicks out there promising to get you slimmer, Qnexa actually does the job to help effectively and relatively safely combat obesity. Rather than being a option for any person trying to lose weight, Qnexa is a serious drug, which should only be taken by those suffering from obesity.

Topics for Smaller Papers

Due its importance, I feel like a smaller paper on the accuracy of test trials in the drug field would be very interesting and beneficial. This paper would go into the process of the testing trials and how the results are assessed. Another possible topic could be the mental and physical obstacles preventing those suffering from obesity to become healthy.

Current State of the Research Paper

I’ve gathered much information on Qnexa and its effectiveness, however I am still in the research portion of my paper. At this point, I’ve pretty much made up my mind on how I’m going to tackle this dilemma after having had a change of opinion on it. I’m confident that I’ll be able to find a lot of current evidence to back up my claims.


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