Asthma drug helps shed pounds

According to new research, a drug commonly used to treat asthma and COPD may also burn fat.

When taken in pill form, the drug formoterol boosted fat burning while preserving protein metabolism, and muscle mass.

Fat burning was increased up to 25%,” says researcher Paul Lee, MD, PhD, of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and an endocrinologist at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia.

Formoterol is used as an inhaled medication for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and is one of the ingredients in Symbicort and Dulera.

In this study, Lee used it in pill form, and gave it to 8 men at a dose of 160 micrograms a day for one week. Before and after the study, he measured the men’s energy rates, fat oxidation, and whole body protein metabolism.  Each time, the measurements were taken after the men drank a standardized, high-carbohydrate liquid meal.

Comparing their before and after rate, their overall energy rate increased by more than 10% and their fat burning by 25%.

Theoretically, an average person weighing 155 pounds could burn an extra 200 calories a day with the pill. Over time, that could translate to noticeable fat loss and maintained or gained muscle.

The inhaled form of the drug can cause tachycardia – an abnormally fast heartbeat, but Lee did not see this side effect in the patients who took the pill form. “Some had insomnia, but it was mild,” he says. It was also temporary. “Some reported loss of appetite.”

In addition to burning fat, the drug might prevent or treat muscle wasting that can accompany age. “It may potentially reverse or prevent this process and treat frailty,” Lee says.

The report is certainly intriguing,” says Bruce Wolfe, MD, President of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and Professor of Surgery at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland.  However, he cautions that the increase in fat burning is modest. Eating a couple of cookies, or drinking a small glass of wine could undo the benefit. Nevertheless, over time, taking the formoterol could make a noticeable difference.

SRxA’s Word on Health eagerly awaits the results of further studies.

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One thought on “Asthma drug helps shed pounds

  1. This drug if ingested in pill form works much slower and than when inhaled, it is very much like the way Ridlin is safely ingested in children.

    This is just one more side benefit from a new drug but it proves one thing: More research = more benefits for everyone.

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