Sunday, July 29, 2012

Medications Target Long-Term Weight Control

New drugs are the first approved by the FDA in 13 years

By James Limbach,

More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and obesity contributes to a number of health conditions, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol.

To help obese and overweight Americans who have been unsuccessful in getting their weight under control with diet and exercise, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two new medications -- the first drugs for long-term weight management that FDA has approved in 13 years.

Life-long meds

Marketed as Belviq and Qsymia, these prescription medications would be taken for the rest of a person’s life. “For many people, obesity is a life-long condition, but we don’t always think of it -- or treat it -- as such,” says Amy Egan, M.D., M.P.H., deputy director for safety in FDA’s Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products (DMEP).

“Qsymia and Belviq are considered life-long therapies in patients who respond to and tolerate them,” says Egan.

The drugs are meant to be used in conjunction with a balanced diet and exercise, says Mary Roberts, M.D., a medical officer in DMEP. “These drugs are another tool to be used by someone trying to reach and stay at a healthy weight,” she says.

Read the entire article here.

Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen With Health Law

By Annie Lowrey and Robert Pear, The New York Times

In the Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, President Obama’s health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. But coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health experts doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area’s needs. There are not enough now.

Other places around the country, including the Mississippi Delta, Detroit and suburban Phoenix, face similar problems. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the health care law, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000.

Health experts, including many who support the law, say there is little that the government or the medical profession will be able to do to close the gap by 2014, when the law begins extending coverage to about 30 million Americans. It typically takes a decade to train a doctor.

“We have a shortage of every kind of doctor, except for plastic surgeons and dermatologists,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, the dean of the new medical school at the University of California, Riverside, founded in part to address the region’s doctor shortage. “We’ll have a 5,000-physician shortage in 10 years, no matter what anybody does.”

Read the entire article here.