Louisville doctor says new weight loss drug is effective, has fe - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville doctor says new weight loss drug is effective, has few side effects

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Qsymia is one of a number of weight loss drugs to hit the market in the last two to three years. Qsymia is one of a number of weight loss drugs to hit the market in the last two to three years.
Bill Nowak says Qsymia helped him get back to his college weight. Bill Nowak says Qsymia helped him get back to his college weight.
Dr. John Oldham estimates over 75 percent of his patients have lost at least seven or eight percent of their body weight on Qsymia, and some have lost up to 20 percent. Dr. John Oldham estimates over 75 percent of his patients have lost at least seven or eight percent of their body weight on Qsymia, and some have lost up to 20 percent.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In a rush to get yourself looking good for the pool this summer? As WDRB's David Scott learned, there's now some new help in the form of a pill.

Until recently, weight loss drugs typically came with a lot of side effects that prevented many people from taking them.But a trio of new pills, and one in particular, has a local doctor calling it the best he's ever seen. And his patients are singing its praises.

Louisville resident Bill Nowak says he feels better than he has in decades. The retired hospital CEO fought the battle of the bulge for years, never succeeding. Then he was introduced to a new prescription weight loss drug called Qsymia.

The results were incredible.

"In the first 75 days of the regular dose of the Qsymia, I lost 35 pounds," Nowak said. "I basically got back to the weight I was when I graduated high school and college."

Qsymia is one of a number of weight loss drugs to hit the market in the last two to three years. But Baptist Health weight loss surgeon John Oldham says his patients have seen the best results with it.

"Definitely over 50 percent that I've had on it -- and I don't have the exact numbers -- but I would say probably even over 75 percent have lost at least seven or eight percent of their body weight," Oldham said, adding that some have lost as much as 20 percent.

Nowak says his weight loss has been life-changing.

"It's easier to walk up and down stairs, it's easier when you're out in the yard doing some work, you just don't have that belly hanging anymore," Nowak said. "There were no ill effects, no side effects, no craziness. Just a drug that made me less hungry 24 hours a day."

But, as with all medications, there are negatives: Qsymia and other newer drugs run $150 to $200 a month, and are typically not covered by insurance.

And, while Nowak says he didn't experience them, there are side effects, like trouble sleeping and jitteriness. However, Dr. Oldham says fewer than five percent of his patients have had problems, much lower than past medications.

Qsymia is just one part of the plan.  The other big part includes changing your lifestyle -- working out and changing the way you eat.

Nowak says Qsymia suppressed his appetite while he got used to a regular exercise routine and learned to cut the carbs.

"I used to always eat a breakfast bar, or one of the nutrition --- a power, an energy bar. Now I eat a couple of eggs and a couple of pieces of bacon every morning, and it's actually better for me," Nowak said.

And Nowak -- who is just three years younger than his father was when he died of a heart attack -- has plenty of incentive to keep those pounds off: his five grandchildren.

"I decided I needed to do something to make sure I was around to see them grow up and have a grandfather there," Nowak said.

Qsymia and other weight loss medications are typically for people who are only looking to lose 10 to 20 pounds. Beyond that, you start looking at other options, like devices that require surgery.

Nowak is no longer on medication.

Patients have other options -- Belviq and Contrave -- if Qsymia doesn't work for them. Another drug called Saxenda came out just months ago, but it's too early to tell just how effective it is.

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