By Jordo Bivona - June 4, 2012 | Tickers: ABT, AMLN, GSK, SNY, VVUS | 0 Comments
Jordo is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinions of our bloggers and are not formally edited.
Right from the outset, a child is exposed to a number of body image ideals that establishes the fact that our society places a lot of importance on the way we look. Though naysayers dismiss the importance of one's looks and physical appearance, we all know it way to well that our physical appearance is responsible to some extent for the way we are treated by people around us. With that in mind, the sensitive issue of being overweight always comes into picture. What one needs to understand is the difference between obesity that is linked with lifestyle patterns and obesity that is linked to medical or genetic causes.
In either case, the overweight individual experiences an immense pressure from within and from friends and family to reduce weight either for aesthetic or medical reasons. Either ways, being proactive about losing weight is always a good idea. However, the route to losing weight is what bothers most people. Dietary changes and regular exercise are extremely crucial in the reduction of weight and maintaining a healthy body. Moreover, lifestyle changes can impact a person's quest to losing weight as well. The most controversial of allweight-loss approachesis pharmacotherapy.
It is controversial because many people misuse weight loss drugs and still many others take the wrong ones, when they may actually require justlifestyle management techniquesincluding dietary changes and an active lifestyle. It is rather difficult to pinpoint and declare who would benefit the most from weight loss drugs. Most physicians agree that those who are morbidly obese and those who are at risk of severe health problems due to their obesity require weight loss medications.
If we were to consider pharmacological agents that reduce or control weight, we would have to wade through murky waters. FDA has approved only orlistat (Xenical) for long-term use. By inhibiting pancreatic lipase, it reduces the absorption of fat in the intestine.GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK)sells Orlistat as Alli in the U.S. and the U.K. whereasRoche Holding AG (RHHBY.PK)sells it as Xenical in other countries.
There are also generics of orlistat available in Russia and India. It has a risk of liver injury, but the documented cases are few andfar between. Sibutramine is an appetite suppressant that helps by quelling pangs of hunger. It was marketed byAbbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT)until it was withdrawn from the market due to cardiovascular events and strokes. This drug is similar to Rimonabant, which was withdrawn from the market bySanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY)back in 2009 due to several risk factors.
Amylin Pharmaceuticals' (NASDAQ: AMLN)Exenatide is used to treat diabetes but is sometimes used as a weight loss drug as well. However, it is recommended only for those who have Type 2 Diabetes. Amylin's other diabetes drug pramlintide is currently being tested as a treatment for obesity among those who do not have diabetes. Green tea extract, raspberry ketone and other herbal extracts have been used to treat obesity with varying degrees of success. Nonetheless, we must bear in mind that weight loss drugs and treatments by major pharmaceutical companies are very few.
Of the newer drugs that are being investigated, I am particularly impressed withVivus' (NASDAQ: VVUS)Qnexa, which is a combination of the drugs phentermine and topiramate. Phentermine is known to suppress appetite, while topiramate is used as an anticonvulsant but causes weight loss as a side effect. FDAvoted to recommendQnexa as an obesity treatment option in February 2012. Final approval will happen sometime later in 2012. This is certainly going to drive Vivus' stock up the mark and seems to be a very promising drug to help people lose weight.
We must also consider pTeroPure pterostilbene, which is a pure form of trans-pterostilbene found in fruits and the bark of certain trees. Pterostilbene is known to have health properties similar to red wine, as it contains resveratrol. In fact, the company thatdeveloped the ingredient,ChromaDex (CDXC.OB)won the 2010 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Most Promising Ingredient of the Year. pTeroPure pterostilbene is expected to be used in the treatment of cancer, blood pressure, diabetes, stress and anti-ageing. It is also expected to be a great weight loss drug but that is something that will have to be observed through the next few months.
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VIVUS, Weight Loss, and the Patient Investor