National Women’s Health Network Urges Women to Resist “Cheap” Gimmicks for Losing Weight in the New Year

With the New Year often comes resolutions to lead happier - and healthier - lives. The National Women’s Health Network (“NWHN”) encourages women who have made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight to resist misleading claims about “diet drugs” and cheap gimmicks from drug companies as they consider adopting healthier behaviors in 2016.

“Women have become savvy to the dangerous side effects and high cost of many ‘diet drugs’ on the market today. To further entice them, drug companies are now offering free trials to improve sales. Women should understand these ‘freebies’ may end up costing them more in the long run and avoid them altogether,” says Cindy Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network.

NWHN recognizes that many women use the beginning of the year as an opportunity to assess their health and find areas for improvement. The drugs being offered with “free trials” (phentermine and topiramate, lorcaserin HCl), however, were shown to increase heart rate, sudden decrease in vision, and trouble sleeping, in addition to thoughts of suicide or self-harm, during clinical trials. It’s estimated that millions of women took these drugs last year, which means tens of thousands of women will likely experience these adverse events. Even more women will be susceptible this year if they fall for the “free trial” ploy being offered by drug companies.

“Clever gimmicks and smart advertising are not enough to balance out the serious, dangerous, and even life-threatening side effects that many of these “diet drugs” produce. Two free weeks does not make any of these drugs safe or effective for women to use. Women may be interested in losing weight, but at what cost to their health?” continues Pearson. Clinical trials showed that these “diet drugs” are barely effective compared to placebo when combined with diet and exercise.

This month, weight loss drug manufacturers will aggressively market their products to women across the country. NWHN continues to stand strong against using free trials to improve sales for dangerous and ineffective weight loss drugs in 2016. It’s a “cheap” way to trick women into using products that just don’t work.

The National Women’s Health Network is supported by our members and by choice, we do not accept financial support from drug companies or medical device manufacturers. We bring the voices, concerns and needs of women consumers to policy and regulatory tables.

Christina Cherel, MPH, is a women’s health advocate and former NWHN Policy & Advocacy Manager. Currently, she advocates globally for reproductive health research as Program Officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute and as Communications Chair for the International Conference on Family Planning.

Read more from Christina Cherel.