Doctors Say New Weight Loss Pill Not a ‘Quick Fix’

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CLEVELAND – For the first time in several years, a new weight loss pill is available by prescription.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of Qsymia to help people lose weight.  According to the medication website, “Qsymia is a new FDA-approved prescription medicine for chronic weight management in adults who are obese, or overweight with at least one weight-related medical condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.”

Dr. Leanne Chrisman-Khawam from MetroHealth Medical Center said the pill comes at a time when more people are losing the battle of the bulge. 

“It’s incredibly common,” said Dr. Chrisman-Khawam.  “I would say seven out of 10 adults either struggle with being overweight or obese.”

While the doctor sees many patients who need to lose weight, she does not support the new medication being used as a ‘quick fix’. 

“People, when they want that pill, are asking for a passive solution, meaning, I need something to make myself better rather than I’m gonna change,” said Dr. Chrisman-Khawam.

The pill has potential side effects, listed on the website as an increased heart rate, suicidal thoughts, eye problems like glaucoma and tingling in the hands and feet.

According to Dr. Chrisman-Khawam, many overweight people simply need a lifestyle change and not a prescription drug. 

“There is no magic pill, it really is about doing small changes that are sustainable, if you do something for 30 days it can be sustained, so you want to do changes that are small and sustainable,” said the doctor.

Meghan McCarthy, from Lakewood, has been actively working out for a decade. 

“You get endorphins, I mean, that’s not me, that’s science, so you get a nice endorphin rush that makes you feel good. You have to work for things, you know, they taste a little sweeter when you work for it,” said McCarthy.

The doctor from MetroHealth said overweight people should first start walking, climbing stairs and making changes they can stick with over time.  That’s what worked for Tanya Sample from Broadview Heights. 

“I had gained weight and I just wanted to lose weight and be healthier and it actually gives me more energy to get throughout the rest of my day when I get a good workout in,” said Sample.

The Qsymia website warns against taking the medication if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or become pregnant during Qsymia treatment.  It should also be avoided if you have thyroid problems (hyperthyroidism), are taking certain medications called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or have taken MAOIs in the past 14 days.

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