FDA’s Removal of HCG Supported by Obesity Specialists

Posted: December 12, 2011 in Obesity Medicine by

DENVER, Dec. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) supports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to remove homeopathic HCG weight loss products from the market.  As the FDA’s news release reported, there are no FDA-approved HCG drug products for weight loss, and there is no substantial evidence that HCG increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction.  ASBP Trustee Craig Primack, MD, has served as ASBP’s spokesman on HCG for many years, and stated, “As a society, we continually strive to find better weight loss treatments.  Obesity is a chronic disease which is best treated by a physician who specializes in weight loss and practices medicine based on sound scientific principles.  Unfortunately, HCG does not live up to those standards.”

Contrary to some advertising schemes, scientific studies do not support that the use of HCG promotes a more attractive or “normal” distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.  In fact, in most studies, HCG has performed no better than the placebo, which leads many to believe that the extreme weight loss is simply attributed to the 500-calorie diet.

Although physicians are typically allowed to prescribe medications for non-FDA-approved purposes, the FDA does not allow physicians to advertise medications for a medical purpose unless they have been FDA-approved.  Many physicians along with the ASBP have voiced concerns about the use of HCG for a long time.  In fact, the ASBP issued a position on the use of HCG in the treatment of obesity in 2009, which concluded that the use of HCG for weight loss is not recommended. One of the main concerns is that the 500-calorie per day diet does not provide the body with adequate nutrition and may increase the likelihood of weight regain due to the loss of muscle mass, which results in a decreased metabolic rate.

ASBP has warned dieters in the past that HCG is not a long-term solution to weight loss.  Because there is no scientific evidence that HCG contributes to weight loss, the ASBP fully supports the FDA’s decision. The ASBP’s full position statement on HCG can be found at www.asbp.org.