A federal panel's decision has brought us a step closer to the first FDA-approved prescription weight-loss drug in more than 10 years. Qnexa was earlier rejected by the FDA over possible safety risks, but the non-FDA panel found, by a vote of 20-2, that the drug's benefits outweigh such risks, the Wall Street Journal reports. The decision effectively urges FDA approval for sale; the agency will decide by April 17.
Only one such drug is currently on the market, with two others eventually removed following heath concerns. Panel members applauded the extent of weight loss linked with Qnexa; users lost an average of 10% of their body weight. The controlled-release drug pairs an appetite-curbing stimulant and an agent that makes you feel full. It's a combination doctors already use, so experts are eager for FDA approval, which would ultimately provide more information to patients. In a country that struggles with weight—some two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese—Qnexa could see a multibillion-dollar market.