April 16, 1997

Pharmacotherapy in the Management of Obesity

Author Affiliations

Longboat Key, Fla

JAMA. 1997;277(15):1201. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540390031024

To the Editor.  —In the article on pharmacotherapy for treatment of obesity,1 the National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity concluded, "short-term (weeks or months) treatment of obesity with drugs is generally not warranted....Until more data are available, pharmacotherapy cannot be recommended for routine use in obese individuals." This conclusion extends previous determinations that diet pills are useless and only add to the problem.2-4The bottom line is what have diet pills produced other than hundreds of millions of dollars of sales and hundreds of thousands of adverse events a year? Dexfenfluramine hydrochloride (Redux) now generates about 90 000 prescriptions a week; the combination of phentermine and fenfluramine (phen/fen), which is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, about 60 000 per week.5Newly disturbing is that diet-pill marketers have generated patient advocacy groups arguing genetic explanations of brain chemical disturbances. But since