The first and only drug indicated for the treatment of adults who suffer from moderate to severe binge eating disorder (BED) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The prescription therapy is lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, which is commercialized by Shire under the brand name Vyvanse, according to a press release from The Obesity Society.
Vyvanse had already been approved as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and now the FDA has approved Shire’s application to expand the drug’s indication to include moderate to severe binge eating disorder, which is the most common eating disorder among American adults, estimated to affect about 2.8 million people in the country.
“Given that if untreated, BED has shown in some people to lead to reduced long-term success in behavioral weight-loss programs and following bariatric surgery, this new tool may prove useful in the obesity treatment setting,” explained the associate professor of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University and TOD Secretary Treasurer, Martin Binks, PhD.
However, it is important to note that Vyvanse is not indicated as a treatment for obesity, and it is essential for physicians to make a distinct diagnosis between the former and BED, since there are several differences between the two, and the eating disorder only affects a portion of obese patients. Even though about 30% of people who are treated for obesity report having some degree of binge eating, it is estimated that only 7 to 10% actually meet the clinical criteria for the disorder.
“It is important to consider treating BED in the context of other treatments specifically targeting obesity,” stated the specialist in obesity and binge eating disorder, who coordinated the clinical research on Vyvanse, Susan L. McElroy, MD. “Vyvanse is approved for treating BED, but it is not approved for weight-loss or obesity treatment and should not be considered a replacement for this treatment.”
Previous studies had already demonstrated the complexity of obesity, apart from the traditional idea that it can be fought by eating less and engaging in regular exercise. Obesity can become a chronic condition, difficult to treat, and can cause several more severe health problems. “For the subset of people with obesity who also have binge eating disorder the availability of this new, safe and effective tool to treat BED may provide some long-awaited support,” added McElroy.
McElroy, who is also the chief research officer at the Lindner Center of HOPE ad professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, is also a member of TOS, the organization that applauded the approval of the drug therapy, as their mission is to support new ways to help manage obesity, as well as improving the quality of life of patients who suffer from the disease.