FDA says nuclear medicine could begin new diet pill boom

Published: Oct. 12, 2023 at 8:26 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The FDA says new science can revolutionize the diet pill industry.

FDA Director of Radiation Medicine Dr. Louis Marzella said in the next 5-10 years, you can expect a pill that will make those with obesity crave food less using methods we haven’t tried before.

CDC data shows more than four in ten Americans are obese. Marzella said the issue is on the FDA’s radar.

“This can result in premature death,” Marzella said. “It can result in diabetes. It can result in, basically damage to your joints from the excess weight.”

Marzella noted a recent study using nuclear medicine that showed the medical community how obesity impacts the brain.

“These nuclear medicine studies are showing that it’s not a problem with willpower. It’s really an actual disease. You can see that the brain has been modified.”

Now that we can see what obesity does to people’s brains, University of Alabama Director of Advanced Imaging Jon McConathy said doctors will eventually be able to better decide how to treat different patients.

“I could see this entering clinical trials, again, it could be changing people’s lifestyle, or behavior, it could be changing diet, or it could be a drug.”

Drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy have become popular for losing weight. But Marzella said those work by changing metabolism and slowing food movement through your intestines. He thinks the new understanding of the brain will lead to better results.

“Leading to therapies, which will be much more effective because they will get at the root of the problem.

The FDA works with drug companies to make treatments safe for public consumption. Marzella anticipates a rush to get new diet pills on the market.

“There’s frankly money to be made. There’s drug companies that will be attracted to this finding, and they will work and compete with each other to develop new treatments.”

The study on how obesity changes the brain was displayed by a team from Leipzig University in Germany at a nuclear medicine conference in July.

Physicians say more research will have to be done before treatments can be developed.