An advisory committee to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended last Thursday (March 29) that the agency require obesity drugs to undergo clinical trials in order to rule out any risk of heart attack. There have been several instances in the past 2 decades of weight-loss drugs that have been removed from the market after they’ve been found to cause cardiovascular problems. If this new measure is adopted by the FDA, drugs that have not shown any signal of increasing heart attack risk will be subject to additional testing before approval.
Although the FDA is not required to follow the committee’s recommendation, specialists who voted in favor of the requirement argue that such a cautious measure is necessary given that many overweight people are already at an increased risk of suffering from heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.
However, others worry that requiring additional clinical trials for weight-loss drugs will deter the development of new drugs. “If the FDA follows through with this vote, you’ve just added another big disincentive for the drug companies to come up with obesity drugs, and we desperately need new drugs,” Ed J. Hendricks, an obesity specialist in Sacramento, told The New York Times.