Reporter: Danner Evans
A new diet drug has just been approved by the FDA called Qsymia. This is actually the exact same drug the maker tried to get the FDA to approve months ago -- at the time it was called Qnexa.
Some consumer advocates are concerned about the drug's side effects – birth defects, increased heart rate, confusion and memory loss.
ABC 13 News talked to ABC Chief Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser about those side effects. He said this drug is by no means perfect.
"When the committee initially considered this drug they were concerned about the side effects and they wanted to see more data," Besser said. "They saw that data and said that although this drug has side effects so does obesity. And they wanted to provide doctors and patients with something else to consider."
Qsymia is the second diet drug approved in the last couple of months. Belviq was approved in June. This is interesting to note because the FDA committee didn't recommend any diet drug for years.
Besser said the push for new options is for good reason.
"Obesity is just an enormous health problem in this country and doctors and patients were very upset there was nothing available short of surgery to tackle this so there was a big push to get more drugs out and there are more drugs in development," Besser explained.
Patients in clinical trials lost an average of 23 pounds on Qsymia. It's recommended for obese patients with a BMI over 27 with other weight-related health issues.