Controversy About Over the Counter Supplements and Prescription Weight Loss Drugs

Scientists are closer than ever to making that dream come true. New research into obesity has unraveled many mysteries about why we eat and how we store and burn off calories. As a result, pharmaceutical companies are spending extraordinary sums to develop new generations of anti-obesity drugs, and many are now in test phases. In the meantime, we’re fighting fat, often unsuccessfully, and spending about $ 30 billion a year to do so. How long do we have to wait for that “magic pill”?

Actually, we don’t have to wait. On the shelves of pharmacies and health food stores are nutritional supplements that can help end your weight loss struggles for good. These natural weight loss agents are effective, easily obtainable, and safe for most people. They don’t even require a prescription.

While not magical per se, many natural weight loss products can bring miraculous results when it comes to fat loss and weight control, such as tweaking your body’s metabolism for faster fat-burning, suppressing your appetite naturally, energizing your body, and more lipodrene with ephedra extract comes in to place. Lipodrene can be purchased from www.shoppharmacycounter.com for a very low price. Lipodrene main ingredient is synephrine which is designed to target fat cells around abdomen area. Lipodrene also includes hoodia cactus extract which is a very strong appetite suppressant. Lipodrene with ephedra is the strongest fat burner today!

To understand why the natural weight loss supplements offer so much promise, it’s helpful to review a little history regarding diet pills.

The quest to find a slimming pill has been ongoing and never-ending. Every generation has had its version. In the 1930s, bath salts and orange pekoe tea were pitched as cures for obesity. The 1950s brought laxatives and mineral preparations promising to erase flabby bulges. In the 1960s and 1970s, doctors prescribed amphetamines (also known as “speed”), which incinerated calories by jump-starting the body’s metabolism. But they were also addictive, and diet pills got a bad name as a result.

In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new anti-obesity drug, dexfenfluramine, sold under the brand name Redux. It worked by triggering the release of serotonin, a brain chemical that when elevated makes you feel full. Dexfenfluramine joined two other appetite-suppressing drugs already on the market, phentermine and fenfluramine. Like dexfenfluramine, fenfluramine caused the brain to release more serotonin, suppressing the appetite. Phentermine, on the other hand, jacked up the nervous system and quashed the appetite much as amphetamines did but without being addictive. Known popularly as “phen-fen,” phentermine and fenfluramine were used in tandem to produce a powerful appetite curbing effect.

All three drugs were meant primarily for people who were considered obese, defined as being 20 percent or more above ideal weight. But abuses were rampant. Some physicians prescribed them for women who wanted to drop just a dress size, or who wanted to shed only a few pounds.

The drugs have disturbing side effects. Fenfluramine can cause dry mouth, drowsiness, diarrhea, and, less frequently, heart palpitations. Phentermine can produce dry mouth, too, as well as nervousness, constipation, and insomnia. Dexfenfluramine has a rare but potentially fatal side effect primary pulmonary hypertension, in which the blood vessels supplying the lungs become scarred and thickened. The disease is progressive, ending in death within a few years.

Furthermore, evidence surfaced that the drugs didn’t work as well as promised. A Cornell University nutrition professor reviewed all the available studies on fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine and found that dieters taking the drugs lost only an average of 5 pounds, often the same amount shed with a placebo. Not a very impressive track record.

Nonetheless, physicians wrote an average of 85,000 prescriptions a week for dexfenfluramine alone. And many commercial weight loss centers jumped on the bandwagon, handing out prescriptions for the drugs without the written consent or knowledge of the dieter’s own doctor.

Then, in September 1997, newspapers around the country had shocking news for dieters: Fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were yanked from the market after a Mayo Clinic study found that 30 percent of 290 patients who took them showed signs of heart-valve abnormalities. Later, the FDA estimated that one-third of people taking these pills could have suffered heart-valve damage. Dieters who had taken these drugs were urged to see their physicians for a complete heart-valve checkup. By the end of 1997, the FDA had begun investigating whether phen-fen and dexfenfluramine could he implicated in birth defects.

A large study conducted at Georgetown University, released in April 1998, found no evidence that dexfenfluramine caused heart-valve problems during the two or three months dieters usually took it. However, the study did suggest that long-term use of the drug could pose dangers.

In 1998, a new weight loss drug, sibutramine (Meridia), received a thumbs-up from the FDA, even over the objections of its own scientific advisers. It is designed to treat serious obesity, especially cases accompanied by other health problems, such as diabetes.

Sibutramine works differently from other prescription weight loss drugs. It doesn’t boost levels of serotonin, but prevents it from being reabsorbed. This helps keep levels high, creating a sensation of fullness. The drug also raises levels of another brain chemical, noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine), to help stimulate the metabolism. Research shows that sibutramine promotes weight loss of 5 to 10 percent not as much as people lost while taking phen-fen. Like most weight loss agents, sibutramine is most beneficial when used with proper diet and exercise.

But doubts about the safety of sibutramine linger. Side effects include dry mouth, headache, constipation, and insomnia. More serious side effects include increases in blood pressure and pulse rate both of which could be life-threatening to people with hypertension or certain heart conditions. Time will tell whether the drug will work effectively or go the way of its predecessors.

Another drug on the horizon is orlistat (Xenical), which blocks intestinal enzymes from absorbing 30 percent of fat that is eaten. The fat is excreted without being stored. Interestingly, there are a couple of natural weight loss substances that do the very same thing bind with fat and help carry it out of the body. Other prescription drugs are either in the pipeline or close to approval.

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