Nearly two years ago, an FDA panel rejected the Qnexa diet pill over safety concerns.
Now, that same panel has given the drug the OK, which means the agency itself will almost certainly approve it for sale soon.
But don't be fooled by this about-face, because the drug hasn't magically gotten any safer over the last two years.
Qnexa still comes with all the same potential risks that caused the panel to think twice back in 2010: birth defects, suicidal thoughts, depression, memory loss, attention problems, bone problems, kidney stones, and more.
Even worse, the drug can increase heart rate and cause heart palpitations -- and the panelists who approved it admit they don't know if those side effects will lead to heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems down the road.
But they went ahead and approved it anyway.
"The potential benefits of this medication seem to trump the side effects, but in truth, only time will tell," Dr. Kenneth Burman of the Washington Hospital Center confessed to Time magazine.
Allow me to translate:
"It could help people lose a bunch of weight, and it could well kill a whole bunch of people at the same time. Let's find out, shall we?"
I say let's not -- because if this drug's history is any indication, its widespread use will lead to more problems than this panel is letting on.
Qnexa isn't a new drug -- it's actually a combination of two older drugs: the amphetamine phentermine, better known as the "phen" in fen-phen (yes, THAT fen-phen), and the seizure drug topiramate.
It's more of a side-effect cocktail than an actual drug -- so much so that 40 percent of the people who took the high dose in a company-funded trial had to drop out.
Many of those who stuck with it were rewarded with weight loss of close to 10 percent of their body weight. But 10 percent for an obese person isn't an achievement. It's someone who's just a little less obese -- and it took them a full year to get there to boot.
What's more, patients who take the drug still have to make diet and lifestyle changes and get more exercise. And if you have to do all that to get thin, why bother messing around with drugs like Qnexa in the first place?
Skip the meds and eat better instead.
Try a low-carb or Mediterranean-style diet, and the pounds will melt away as if by magic -- and you'll soon find yourself reaching in the back of your closet for clothes you never thought you'd wear again.