"Doctors Urged to Attack Obesity as a Disease State"

Drugs that can help people lose weight—great! That was my first reaction. But the more I read, the more I started questioning.

The big question on this issue seems to be, who’s doing the urging? If doctors are getting pressured to agree to start prescribing expensive drugs to people who are overweight, and even to prescribe bariatric surgery, who has the most to gain? Will the insurance industry have a lower overall total output? Not likely, because much of the cost they might save on treating diseases linked to obesity will now be transferred to treating obesity itself. Will the health care industry’s charges go down? Unlikely. Will patients who receive these drugs be able to permanently maintain the weight loss, or if they have relied on the drugs to help them lose weight but haven’t learned new eating habits, how many will relapse—with untold further implications for their health?

And although it may appear at the end of every one of the MedPage today reports, I never noticed until now the disclaimer box at the end of the article announcing that the physician members of the panel doing this urging had to disclose possible conflicts of interess. The list of pharmaceutical companies they all mentioned is like a who’s-who of the drug world—Accumetrics, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co., Merck/Schering-Plough, and Schering Plough Pharmaceuticals. Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Fournier, GlaxoSmithKline, Kos Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Sankyo, and sanofi-aventis.

If all these potential conficts of interest are real, what are the chances doctors might also get pressured to accept something else for following drug company “prescriptions” for how to practice medicine… Yeah, that disclaimer box makes me nervous. Continue to theAmerican Heart Association panel discussion on doctors being urged to attack obesity as a disease state.