Topamax (generic topiramate) is an anti-seizure medication that is also used to prevent migraine headaches. Off-label, Topamax is prescribed to treat mood instability, weight loss, Parkinson’s, stroke, and psychiatric disorders. Off-label means when a prescription medicine is used to treat a disease or condition for which the drug has not been approved by the FDA. While the FDA regulates how a medication can be advertised or promoted by the manufacturer, these regulations do not restrict a doctor’s ability to prescribe the medication for different conditions, in different doses, or for different lengths of time.
Topamax when taken during the first trimester of pregnancy may cause birth defects such as oral clefts.
Some women taking Topamax for seizures and preventing migraine headaches also tout that they have lost weight while on the drug. Weight loss is a side effect of Topamax. Some people are thrilled and others concerned. What is concerning is that taking Topamax while pregnant (when women don’t even know they’re pregnant yet) has devastating side effects on the unborn fetus.
Why would any doctor prescribe Topamax for weight loss?
Is it worth the risk? Topamax is not approved as a weight loss medication by the FDA. How can a doctor justify the birth defect risks vs. the weight loss benefits?
Women with type 2 diabetes have lost weight with Topamax but is it worth the risk to have a baby born with a cleft palate or cleft lip?
With hundreds of thousands of weight loss supplements and diets on the market, why would a doctor prescribe Topamax for weight loss? Why would the makers of Topamax even suggest this drug for weight loss?
In March 2011, the FDA released a new MedAlert safety update changing Topamax from a Pregnancy C Category to a Pregnancy D Category and added a warning about pregnancy.
The FDA assigns all approved drugs to Pregnancy Categories based on data obtained through animal studies and clinical studies or experience. It is unethical to perform clinical studies on pregnant women. Pregnancy Categories also help patients and healthcare professionals weigh the risks and benefits of using a certain drug during pregnancy. Drugs in Pregnancy Category D have human data demonstrating evidence of human fetal risk, but the potential benefits of these drugs may still be considered acceptable in certain situations but weight loss would not acceptable as there are thousands of weight loss solutions around.
How does Topamax work for weight loss? Different people have different experiences and not everyone loses weight. Some people say that Topamax removes hunger pangs so you can go all day and not be hungry and not eat. Not eating is not a good way to lose weight. Moderation and exercise is the key as well as making smart food choices and using portion control not starvation. For some people Topamax changed the flavor quotient of certain foods like high caloric sodas. Soda tasted badly, tasted of chemicals (it is all chemicals).
Topamax is not considered a good choice for weight loss treatment due to common side effects, such as memory loss or difficulty concentrating and the more crucial problem of increased chances having of your baby born with an oral cleft birth defect.