Definition Essay – Jon Otero

In the modern American society, the increasing percentage of citizens reaching obese and overweight BMI indexes is startling. At some point, these unfortunate men and women reach a threshold at which they no longer can just diet and exercise their excessed weight off. For this reason, pharmaceutical companies have been researching chemicals that will help significantly reduce weight, but most have been met with opposition by the FDA due to the dangerous effects so many of these chemicals have on the heart. The most recent of these drugs facing FDA approval is Vivus’s Qnexa; a combination of the FDA approved Phentermine and Topiramate. For those unfortunate and sick people plagued by obesity, Qnexa could be the deciding factor between life and death. Although the main argument against the approval of Qnexa is the fear of its effects on the heart, there are other risks one has to decide upon when taking it. However, the risks of continuing one’s life as obese are far greater than the effects of Qnexa.

Obesity and some of the drugs to treat it share a common threat to our health, heart disease. Other drugs in the past have been banned due to the increased chance of heart attack, dangerous increases in blood pressure, and resulting heart valve damage. However, the Phentermine component of Qnexa has not yielded any of these results. Since the body develops a tolerance to it within a fairly small time frame, Phentermine alone is a short-term weight loss solution. A possible reason for the extensive testing of Qnexa is the dangerous cocktail of a past obesity drug that contained Phentermine, Fen-Phen. Fen-phen is a banned drug containing Phentermine and Fenfluramine. The danger comes from Fenfluramine, a drug that even alone has been banned since 30% of testers were shown to have developed very abnormal echocardiograms (FDA). Being obese, however, is like living with a ticking time bomb attached right to one’s chest. Besides the risk of flat out heart failure from the heart’s incapacity to keep up with the massiveness of an obese body, many other risks arise within the circulation system. Since being obese causes plaque to build up in the arteries, it is very likely to experience high blood pressure, Coronary Heart Disease, and even stroke. As opposed to the mild side effects of Qnexa dealing with the cardiovascular system, being obese will ultimately be the cause of death for so many citizens affected by the disease.

Qnexa and being obese both carry great risks for women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant. Qnexa shouldn’t be taken by women who are pregnant due to Topiramate’s effect of doubling the likelihood of having a child born with a cleft palate from .7% to 1.4% (Roth). In that circumstance, an operation would have to be performed to correct the abnormality. However, if an obese woman were planning on having a child, there are already a plethora of long-term complications for both herself and the child that can arise from her weight. One of the largest issues occurs due to the heightened blood pressure of the mother, which results low birth weights from the restricted blood flow to the fetus. Oppositely, if Gestation Diabetes is developed, the child gains too much weight in development and is born with a predisposition to childhood obesity. Another issue the mother faces is the difficulty to gather fine details on the development of the child during ultrasounds. Since the high amount of fat obstructs the waves, the view of the child is often blurry and chances of picking up problems in fetal development are decreased. While Vivus, the manufacturer of Qnexa, has excluded pregnant women in it’s filing for FDA approval, its noteworthy that its risks as opposed to obesity’s effects on pregnancy terms are very miniscule.

Unlike the case with obesity, the only other possible dangers of taking Qnexa that have been discovered its trials would only arise if a patient decided to take too high of a dosage. As with all drugs, it’s a chemical that should be taken responsibly. Obesity is much more detrimental to the lives of people it has taken hold of than just the heart and pregnancy risks. Type 2 diabetes is another dangerous risk of having so much excessive weight. In this case, the individual’s body has become unable to produce insulin at sufficient levels or at all. Having diabetes only increases the risk of heart disease and stroke risk, but also predisposes individuals to kidney disease and blindness (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute). The increase weight also has a great toll on the support system for the body, the skeleton, since the bones experiences much more wear and tear. Finally, studies conducted by the National Caner Institute have shown that obesity increases the risk of cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, colon, rectum, breast, endometrium, kidneys, thyroid, and gallbladder (National Cancer Institute). Obesity is a serious condition that clearly endangers a persons life with every single beat their heart makes, and it carries much more deadly risks than Qnexa, the newest drug designed to treat the disease.

In the case between Qnexa and obesity, the drug clearly has significantly less risks than the disease and has been shown to effectively treat it. The sick people whose lives have been basically taken from them because of the physical state wrought on by obesity could actually be saved with Qnexa’s approval. It carries one of the safest and most effective methods of treating of obesity yet. Not taking Qnexa as an obese person carries a significantly higher risk than the marginal risk of responsibly taking the drug.

Works Cited

FDA Announces Withdrawal Fenfluramine and Dexfenfluramine (Fen-Phen) Web. 08 Mar. 2012.

“Obesity and Cancer Risk.” National Cancer Institute. Web. 08 Mar. 2012. <;

Roth, Jeffrey J. “FDA Warns Against Use of Topamax by Women of Childbearing Age.” Las Vegas Plastic Surgery. Web. 08 Mar. 2012. <;.

“What Are the Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity?” – NHLBI, NIH. Web. 08 Mar. 2012. <;.


“”Fen-Phen” Update (Fenfluramine, Phentermine, Dexfenfluramine).” Web. 08 Mar. 2012. <;.

“Obesity During Pregnancy.” Web. 08 Mar. 2012. <;.

“Phentermine.” Web. 08 Mar. 2012. <;.

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3 Responses to Definition Essay – Jon Otero

  1. oteroj40 says:

    I would really appreciate feedback on my definition essay, thank you

  2. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Jon. This has a strong, authoritative tone. What’s the basis for your claim that there’s a “threshold” at which “no longer can” succeed with diet and exercise? You sound as if you object to the FDA opposition. Do you? What does “facing FDA approval” mean? Facing difficulty getting FDA approval? Crucial grammar question: Does “FDA approved Phentermine and Topiramate” mean both are FDA approved, or just Phentermine? The answer is not clear. Is “the main argument” a fear of heart effects or the fact of heart effects? What is the benefit of mentioning the “other risks” one “has to decide upon” here? Will you be able to quantify your claim somehow that obesity is riskier than Qnexa? It’s a great argument, but readers are not likely to take your word for it.

    Your second paragraph takes an odd route. 1) Obesity and drugs to reduce it can both cause heart problems, 2) Phentermine doesn’t, 3) Fen-Phen did, but because of the Fenfluramine, 4) Obesity does. Pull these two apart into separate paragraphs.

    What “it” is likely to experience high blood pressure?
    Why is Coronary Heart Disease capitalized?
    What does “Qnexa dealing with the cardiovascular system” mean?
    Again, will you quantify that obesity is a greater risk than Qnexa?
    Fails for Grammar more than once for Rule 2.

    You’re doing a good job of identifying obesity’s risks for pregnant women and their fetuses, Jon, but it’s hard to see where you’re going. Are you suggesting the drug be approved for women who are currently pregnant? Is your thinking that they have time to lose enough weight to benefit the pregnancy?

    You seem to say that the only danger at all keeping Qnexa from being approved is the cleft palate danger for newborns. Is that accurate? And if so, will you be recommending approval for everyone except pregnant women?

    Significantly less risks Fails for Grammar, Rule 5.
    “Physical state wrought on”? Huh?
    “It carries . . . a method”?
    I think you mean, “For an obese person, not taking Qnexa . . . .”

    Remind your readers that you are trying to define risk and danger by analyzing comparative risks and dangers. And don’t mix your categories. You never explicitly mention men as a group. Apparently, Qnexa has been proved to reduce obesity effectively for them with no negative effects on heart function and no other significant dangers? Is that true?

    I can piece together your argument, Jon, but you could make it more pointedly, that the only impediments to approval are the cleft palate danger for pregnant women and the stigma that Fen-Phen has cast over anything containing Phentermine. If that’s true, it would help to make your positive assertions first and establish overall safety for Qnexa. Then establish overall danger for obesity. Then point out the counterintuitivity of withholding approval of a beneficial pharmaceutical on the basis of a small danger to a specific class of people.

    Is this helpful?

  3. davidbdale says:

    Can I get you to do your Works Cited entries like the revised first work where, instead of showing the url, I’ve used it to form the link?

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