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FDA Approves Qsymia to Treat Obesity in Adolescents

Chronic obesity-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and fatty liver disease were previously only seen in adults but are now being diagnosed with increasing frequency in adolescents. Qsymia may be a new tool to combat this worrisome trend.

research study published in July 2022 has found that childhood obesity is more common now than 12 years ago. This news is particularly troubling given that obesity increases the risk for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. On June 27, 2022, the FDA approved Qsymia for treatment of obesity for adolescents (ages 12-17).

This approval follows a clinical trial for Qsymia that found more than 44% of adolescent patients lost at least 15% of their body weight and more than 30% of patients lost at least 20% of their body weight.

What is Qsymia?

One way to avoid the complications of chronic obesity is through the use of weight loss medications. In 2012, Qsymia (pronounced Q-simea) was originally approved for adults experiencing obesity. This once daily pill is intended for use alongside diet and exercise. 

In a clinical trial for adults, those in the Qsymia treatment group lost an average of ~10% of their body weight over two years, compared to ~2% for those in the placebo group. 

Why is the approval of Qsymia for adolescents important?

Children are now experiencing obesity with higher incidence, at younger ages, and at more severe levels. "Up to 90 percent of adolescents with obesity are likely to have obesity as adults, putting them at increased risk for developing weight-related complications,” said Dr. Aaron Kelly, professor of pediatrics and co-director of the Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

Prior to the 2022 approval of Qsymia for adolescents, three medications were approved for the treatment of childhood obesity: orlistat (ages 12-16), phentermine (ages 16+), and liraglutide (ages 12-17). Of these three options, liraglutide (Saxenda) was the most effective with a 4.64 percentage point reduction in BMI compared to a placebo.

A similar trial from April 2022 with Qsymia found a much greater 10.44 percentage point reduction in BMI compared to placebo for adolescents. These results show that Qsymia is a promising new alternative to treat childhood obesity.

Please consult with a healthcare professional if you are interested in learning more about Qsymia. 

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