Anti-Obesity Agents and the US Food and Drug Administration
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- Casey, M.F. & Mechanick, J.I. Curr Obes Rep (2014) 3: 361. doi:10.1007/s13679-014-0115-x
Despite the growing market for obesity care, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only two new pharmaceutical agents—lorcaserin and combination phentermine/topiramate—for weight reduction since 2000, while removing three agents from the market in the same time period. This article explores the FDA’s history and role in the approval of anti-obesity medications within the context of a public health model of obesity. Through the review of obesity literature and FDA approval documents, we identified two major barriers preventing fair evaluation of anti-obesity agents including: (1) methodological pitfalls in clinical trials and (2) misaligned values in the assessment of anti-obesity agents. Specific recommendations include the use of adaptive (Bayesian) design protocols, value-based analyses of risks and benefits, and regulatory guidance based on a comprehensive, multi-platform obesity disease model. Positively addressing barriers in the FDA approval process of anti-obesity agents may have many beneficial effects within an obesity disease model.