An FDA panel voted today to recommend approval of the weight-loss drug Qnexa, despite concerns that it causes birth defects and heart problems — and the fact that some consumer watchdogs are against the drug.
According to the AP, the FDA panel voted 20-2 for the drug's approval, citing the fact that it helped many patients lose 10% of their body weight. This apparently outweighed the drug's side effects, which could include memory loss, depression, heart problems, and an increased risk of having a baby with a cleft palate that persists even if women stop the drug before they get pregnant. The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said in a press release that Qnexa "causes increased heart rate and may lead to severe cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and arrhythmias, as well as birth defects, kidney stones, decreased bone mineral density and memory impairment." Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, says,