Qsymia, one of the newest prescription diet drugs to receive FDA approval – which its manufacturer, Vivus, obtained in mid 2012 – has just been found to have additional benefits, as well. This medication is a combination of Phentermine and Topiramate extended release. A recent study indicated that beyond assisting with weight loss of more than 10 percent, it could also be linked with considerable systolic and diastolic blood pressure improvements.
This could be very important news for obese patients who are also suffering with hypertension (high blood pressure). So far, the results are only the subanalysis of a trial, but it does indicate that there is enough promise to conduct further study into this potential benefit of the drug.
Among the participants of a CONQUER trial conducted by University of Chicago’s George Bakris, M.D., and colleagues, almost half of those who were overweight or obese shed at least 10 percent of their body weight when using a higher dose of the drug when compared to 1 percent on a placebo. These findings were in line with the intended purpose of the medication. However, the researchers also reported at an American Society of Hypertension meeting that average blood pressure among the participants using Qsymia and who lost a minimum of 10 percent of body weight fell by 11 to 12 mm Hg systolic, as well as by 7 to 8 mm Hg diastolic.
Among the patients who lost 5 to 10 percent of their body weight with the use of either a high or lower dose of Qsymia – one quarter of the subjects – the blood pressure reduction was an average of 8/6 mm Hg.
According to Dr. Bakris, among the prescription weight loss drugs that are currently available, Qsymia is well tolerated and safe, particularly at lower doses, and it has not been linked with higher cardiovascular risk. This is important, as its inclusion of Phentermine has caused many to suspect that higher heart risks could result, as has occurred in the past, such as in the now banned Fen-Phen compound.
Though there is a risk of increased heart rate when using Qsymia, this averaged at under 1 bmp throughout the various weight loss categories in the analysis of this study. It is still in need of a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS). Further study beyond this Vivus funded research will also be required and will help to determine precisely how obese and overweight patients – particularly those with hypertension – might be able to benefit from this medication.