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 Weight Control  Holistic-online.com

FDA Approved Fat Loss

By Shane Ellison M.Sc.

The proposed ban on ephedra has put most Americans into a panic state. The media pundits are shouting death, medical doctors are telling patients that one dose of ephedra can cause immediate heart attack, and personal trainers are recommending the cancer causing compound chromium poly-picolinate (or other chromium derivatives) to be used in place of ephedra. And finally, the FDA and other "experts" are pushing Wellbutrin AKA Zyban (bupropion). Absurdity!

If you or anybody you know is reaching for supposed FDA approved fat loss drugs such as Wellbutrin, it would be wise to pay full attention to the next few paragraphs.

The recommendation to use bupropion is based on "check book science" not real science. Reported in Julys Obesity Research, subjects who completed 26 weeks of use maintained mean losses of 4.6% of baseline weight for those taking bupropion (SR 300 mg/d) while those on placebo lost 1.8% of baseline weight. This equates to a whopping 2.8% loss in body weight by those taking bupropion. The study was paid for by bupropion manufacturer Glaxo SmithKline, who after completion touted how wonderful it was for weight loss.

Most professionals accepted it without looking at the facts. A 2.8% loss in body weight is equivalent to a 200 pound woman who is 5'8" losing 5.6 pounds. This would bring her weight to 195 pounds. Using a more accurate figure for beneficial weight loss her BMI would have gone from 30 (classifying her as scientifically obese) to 30! Thus, Wellbutrin, scientifically and factually has zero benefits for healthy weight loss!

Nonetheless, this FDA approved drug is often touted by experts for weight loss while the side effects are typically not discussed. For example, Dr. Richard Atkinson, president of the American Obesity Association, has declared that with respect to using bupropion for fat loss ; "This is a drug that people have taken for many years to treat depression with few problems or side effects."

Liar or just misinformed?

Looking at the actions of the drug, Clinical Pharmacology gave what seems to be a warning rather than a mechanism of action. "Bupropion is a novel antidepressant whose mechanism of action must still be elucidated." And Further, "The mechanism of action of the novel antidepressant bupropion remains unclear after many years of study."

The Journal of Clinical Psychology states further that "Bupropion is widely distributed to tissues and extensively metabolized by oxidation and reduction to at least six metabolites, some of which may be active. Bupropion does not inhibit monoamine oxidase, exerts no effect on serotonin uptake, and minimally alters the reuptake of norepinephrine at presynaptic sites. It does not appear to exert action leading to postsynaptic beta-adrenergic down-regulation, and it has minimal inhibitory effects on presynaptic dopamine uptake."[4]

Wellbutrin was withdrawn in 1986 because of an unacceptable incidence of seizures. It was released back to the market by the FDA in 1986 for unknown reasons. According to clinical trials, 6.1% of users will suffer from withdrawals due to adverse events. Additionally, it is well known that all Wellbutrin related seizures occurred in patients who are taking what is considered to be a therapeutic dose or 450 mg/day or less. However, real life data is suggesting much higher rates of adverse reactions.

Wellbutrin is the third leading cause of drug related seizures with cocaine being number one. Health Canada and GlaxoSmithKline received 1127 reports of adverse reactions to Wellbutrin between May 1998 and May 28, 2001. Among these were 19 deaths and 172 reports of seizures or convulsions. Worse, the Medicines Control Agency (equivalent to FDA) of Britain has confirmed 18 deaths and received reports of 3,457 patients complaining of adverse reactions in the last year (200-2001)! Despite these staggering figures, the number of children being prescribed Wellbutrin jumped 195% between 1995-1999!

On June 26, 2003, drug manufacturer of Wellbutrin, Glaxo SmithKline announced that it has received a FDA approval letter for an extended release formulation of its widely-used antidepressant Wellbutrin.

Considering that the FDA cannot prove a single death attributed to ephedra use they should be more fearful of bupropion. Of course this is logic and the FDA has a history of illogical behavior.

See Also:

Bupropion (Wellbutrin) - its actions and side effects.

Drug Therapy for weight loss


[1] Obes Res 2002 Jul;10(7):633-641. Obes Res. 2002 Oct;10(10):1049- 56.

[2] Lipman, Larry. Health Policy Journal Health Affairs. July 9th, 2002

[3] Clin Pharm 1983 Nov-Dec;2(6):525-37

[4] J Clin Psychiatry 1983 May;44(5 Pt 2):74-8

[5] J Emerg Med 2002 Apr;22(3):235-9 J

[6] JAMA, April 17, 2002 - Vol 287, No. 15

2004 All rights reserved

Shane holds a Masters degree in organic chemistry and has first- hand industry experience with drug research, design and synthesis. He knows Americans want and deserve natural medicine not prescriptions. Visit www.health-fx.net and for his book www.healthmyths.net

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