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But the group stressed that the drugmaker must be required to conduct a large, follow-up study of the pill's effects on the heart. Studies of Qnexa show it raises heart rate and causes heart palpitations, a longtime concern with diet pills over the years. The group of experts said it is still unclear if those side effects lead to heart attack and more serious cardiovascular problems.
"The potential benefits of this medication seem to trump the side effects, but in truth, only time will tell," said Dr. Kenneth Burman of the Washington Hospital Center.
The FDA is not required to follow the advice of its panels, though it often does. A final decision on the drug is expected by mid-April.