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Miracle diet pill? A safe drug is elusive

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By MATTHEW PERRONE
AP Health Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The battle of the bulge has been a big, fat failure for US drugmakers. But that hasn't stopped them from trying.

For nearly a century, scientists have struggled to make a diet pill that helps people lose weight without side effects that range from embarrassing digestive issues to dangerous heart problems.

But this week, federal health advisers endorsed the weight loss pill Qnexa even though the FDA previously rejected it over concerns that it can cause heart palpitations and birth defects if taken by pregnant women.

The vote of confidence raises hopes that the US could approve its first anti-obesity drug in more than a decade. It also highlights how challenging it is to create a pill that fights fat in a variety of people without negative side effects.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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