For those Americans who are obese or overweight-and that unfortunately includes about 70% of the population-the FDA has recently approved a new weight loss pill. In one sense, it is new. In fact Qysmia is only the third diet medication on the market. However, it is really just a combination of two older medications.

The pill is called Qsymia, a name which not only is difficult to spell  and to pronounce, but also begs the question: What were they thinking, when they decided on such a name?? Anyways, the drug combines phenteramine, an appetite suppressant, with Topiramate, a medication used to control seizures. Together, these substances seem to reduce the urge to eat.

What do the studies show? Well, subjects lost 10% of their starting weight over one year. Now before you pick up the phone to beg your doctor to prescribe this stuff, you should know that these now very happy,  overweight study participants followed a reduced calorie diet and exercised regularly. If you, like most Americans, do neither popping a pill will certainly not cause that much weight loss. In fact, other than draining your pocketbook and exposing you to certain nasty risks (see below), you might not lose anything unless you diet and exercise as well.

What are the risks? Heart valve problems, which in unusual cases could require valve replacement have been seen in previous appetite suppressants. In fact, the FDA rejected Qysmia in 2010 because of these concerns. The drug was approved only after several FDA advisors received all expense paid trips to Hawaii-no, just kidding! The drug was approved with the caveat that the manufacturer Vivus, will be required to monitor users carefully for heart side effects.

Qysmia can also cause birth defects, so it is absolutely off the list for any pregnant females. It would be a good idea to check for pregnancy in any women of childbearing age who plan on taking this pill. It has been approved for those with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 who are termed obese and for those with a BMI over 27, termed overweight, who have other weight related conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol.

Remember, pill popping without the hard work of exercise and dietary changes is a waste of time and money. Still, this pill might be a game changer, a ray of hope for those who have tried almost everything and still can’t lose weight.