SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Korea Bizwire) – There’s no doubt that a balanced diet and exercise are the best combo for healthy weight loss. But some prefer the assistance of modern medication like appetite suppressants, or anorectics.
These appetite-inhibiting drugs had been strictly regulated by medical authorities since 2014, with the intention of protecting Korean citizens from potential harm and side effects, but only up until Friday.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) revealed that it will start granting new approvals to the psychotropic drugs phentermine and phendimetrazine starting in late 2017, allowing pharmaceutical companies to manufacture new biosimilars using the two drugs for domestic distribution.
Phentermine and phendimetrazine trigger increased excretion of neurotransmitters (i.e. norepinephrine) from the hypothalamus in the brain, deterring appetite. And while these drugs may enhance the effectiveness of one’s diet, they can also increase the risk of addiction and tolerance.
Anorectic agents consisting of the two drugs are also known for various physical side effects, including headache, slowed heart rate, elevated temperature, and even fatal lung problems. Psychological ramifications like anxiety, depression, and insomnia have also been observed. For such reasons, a number of developed countries including the UK, France, and Germany have had the drugs either banned or strictly controlled.
The MFDS, however, says it will be able to thoroughly monitor the distribution of psychotropic drugs and their prescription with the upcoming Integrated Narcotics Maintenance System, which will administer medical institutions and pharmacies across the country. It also added that it seems unfair to benefit pharmaceuticals who were approved for related drugs prior to 2014, while rejecting all new ones.
The ministry also acknowledged that it is aware of the drugs’ potential health implications, and noted that it currently classifies phentermine and phendimetrazine as narcotics. It advised that consumers strictly follow the dosage guidelines, and refrain from taking the medication for more than three months to avoid unwanted side effects.
However, industry watchers have raised concerns, and point out that there are more than a handful of dieters who depend on these drugs over longer periods, engaging themselves in excessive weight loss routines.
“With recent social trends emphasizing diet and weight loss, the supply of anorectics will likely increase,” said an industry watcher.
The Korean market for anti-obesity medication, including appetite suppressants, is expected to increase to a 35-trillion-won ($31.6 billion) industry by the year 2020.
By Kevin Lee (email@example.com)