Diet drugs are prescribed for patients who have difficulty losing weight through traditional means such as diet and exercise. Many diet drugs work to treat obesity through appetite suppression. Most diet drugs are only prescribed for short-term use; however, there are two drugs that are approved for long-term use: Meridia® and Xenical®.
Diet Drug Side Effects
As with any type of drug, there are side effects associated with diet drugs. Some of the side effects of diet drugs include:
- Heart valve irregularities
- Primary pulmonary hypertension
- Liver failure
Ephedra is an ingredient that is used in over-the-counter herbal medicines and dietary supplements to promote weight loss and boost energy levels.
Types of Ephedra
Ephedra, also known as ephedrine, comes in several forms:
- Ephedra herb powder
- Ma huang
- Chinese ephedra
The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements and, as a result, the manufacturers of herbal medications and dietary supplements can market these products without prior approval or subsequent monitoring. For this reason, the incidence of harmful or deadly side effects may be higher.
Ephedra Side Effects
Increasing evidence of the serious side effects associated with the use of ephedra has led the FDA and Health and Human Services (HHS) to more closely monitor the ingredient. Serious side effects that can occur with the use of ephedra include:
- Heart attack
Fen-Phen is a prescription diet drug combo that was used for many years to control appetite. The two drugs used in the combination are fenfluramine (Pondimin) and phentermine (Ionamin). In addition, a drug known as Redux (dexfenfluramine) was also used.
Fen-Phen Side Effects
As with any drug, there are side effects associated with Fen-Phen use. Side effects of Fen-Phen include:
- Heart valve damage
- Primary pulmonary hypertension - narrowing of the blood vessels in the lungs, which leads to higher blood pressure and possible heart failure
- Neuropsychological damage
In response to the numerous lawsuits filed on behalf of people who were harmed by Fen-Phen, the manufacturers of the drug settled a nationwide lawsuit for $3.75 billion.
Kava is an herbal ingredient used in dietary supplements to promote relaxation by relieving stress, tension, and anxiety. Kava may also be used to fight insomnia and relieve menopause symptoms.
Kava is a plant indigenous to the South Pacific, where its roots are used to prepare a traditional drink. It may be referred to by many different names, including:
- Kava kava
- Kawa kawa
- Maori kava
- Kava pepper
- Ava pepper
- Intoxicating pepper
- Long pepper
Side Effects of Kava
Although the FDA does not have the authority to regulate dietary supplements, it has received reports of serious side effects associated with the use of kava. These side effects include:
- Hepatitis - a condition characterized by abdominal pain, weight loss, and weakness. Hepatitis can lead to liver cancer.
- Cirrhosis - a condition characterized by scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis leads to increased blood pressure, jaundice, fatigue, skin that bruises easily, and confusion. Cirrhosis can be life-threatening in some cases.
- Liver failure - characterized by nausea, stool discoloration, and dark urine. Liver failure can result in difficulty walking, tremors, and impaired speech. Eventually, those suffering from liver failure will fall into a coma unless a liver transplant is performed.
Meridia®, also known as sibutramine, is a prescription weight loss drug used to control appetite by suppressing the absorption of serotonin and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that cause the brain to believe the body is full. Meridia® is not intended to be used alone; it should be prescribed in combination with diet and exercise.
Meridia® Side Effects
As with any drug, there are side effects associated with Meridia®. Side effects of Meridia® include:
- Dry mouth
- Irregular heartbeat
The FDA issued a recall of the diet drug Fen-Phen after it was linked to heart valve irregularities and primary pulmonary hypertension.
In addition, the FDA has received a petition calling for the immediate recall of the diet drug Meridia® due to the deaths of 32 people.
Find a Diet Drug Attorney
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a diet drug or a dietary supplement containing Ephedra or Kava, you can locate a defective diet drug lawyer in your area using the ImpactLaw directory.