Sarah Boseleyhealth editor. Tuesday 14 January First published on Tuesday 14 January Attempts to invent a safe and effective diet pill have foundered time and again, allowing the internet trade in illegal and ineffective herbal supplements and dangerous drugs, such as DNPto flourish. A successful diet pill could make billions for the pharmaceutical industry, but efforts to date have ended in disaster, with patients harmed, drugs banned and massive compensation paid out.
Fen-phen, an appetite suppressant, was the most spectacular failure. It was withdrawn in the US in after causing widespread heart valve damage. More recently, two other appetite suppressants have been taken off the market in the UK — sibutramine Reductil and rimonabant Acomplia. Lows went through the extensive trials required to get a licence and appeared to work, but once they were being widely used, dangerous side-effects emerged.
Rimonabant made some people feel suicidal. Sibutramine increased the chances of having a non-fatal heart attack or stroke. The only drug that has official NHS approval — orlistat, sold under the brand name Xenical — is unpopular. It works by preventing the absorption of fat in the gut and often causes diarrhoea. It does nothing to dampen ppills appetite.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends it for obese patients, but only if they have managed to lose 2. Two other drugs used in the UK are not available from NHS GPs. The appetite suppressants phentermine yb diethylpropion date back to the s and are privately prescribed by doctors working in slimming clinics. They are legal, after a failed attempt to ban them 10 years ago, but are not in the prescribing guides used by NHS GPs.
The tale of the appetite suppressants that are used, but not NHS-approved, is just one of the bizarre aspects of the world of diet drugs. They were in use until the Weight loss pills approved by nhs scandal caused a climate of hostile opinion, according to Robert Houtman, the managing director of the National Slimming and Cosmetic Clinics chain. The UK government "decided to get on the bandwagon and have these dangerous, addictive drugs banned".
But a report by the Medicines Control Loss in October found no reason to weight loss pills approved by nhs so, partly because of a dearth of research on the drugs. It concluded there was insufficient evidence of significant harm to the public from the use of the drugs in slimming clinics. When the European Medicines Agency nevertheless announced it was revoking the drugs' licences, the pharmacist Tom Chapman, who manufactures phentermine and diethylpropion at his family business, Essential Nutrition, in Brough, near Hull, fought the decision in the European quick weight loss center detox phase and won in January Chapman supplies the private slimming clinics of the Obesity Management Association, of which he and Houtman are founder members.
Originally, doctors were selling it from car boots and all sorts and it was getting a really bad reputation. So we stopped that and said you've got to have premises — proper premises. The OMA claims a survey of patients at 20 clinics showed they lost an average of 9. But people taking the drugs also get weekly consultations with a doctor and diet plans and exercise as well, which might account for the weight loss.
Herbal remedies and supplements have been disappointing. Hoodia, derived from a cactus plant, once weight loss pills approved by nhs highly promising. It is chewed by the San hunter-gatherers of southern Africa during long expeditions to stave piills hunger. Although South African government scientists isolated the active ingredient and patented it, neither Pfizer nor Nus could create a viable product.
Pfizer collaborated with the UK's Phytopharm, which nnhs bought the rights to develop it from the South African government. But Pfizer said it proved too expensive to synthesise the active ingredient and pulled out inthough its lead researcher wrote to the New York Times in to say it had found "indications of unwanted effects on the liver caused by other components, which could not be easily removed from the supplement".
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