My mom took “diet pills” back in the ’60s and cleaned house until 3 am! Years later she told me that she loved getting so much done. Those little pepper-upper diet pills were amphetamines, the forerunner of popular ADHD medications like Adderall.

Vyvanse 70 mg

Looks like we’ve come full circle: January 30, 2015 the FDA approved Vyvanse•, a long-acting amphetamine, for treatment of binge eating disorder (BED). Shire sought approval for additional treatment use from the FDA long ago, but coincidentally the announcement was made just two weeks after a lisdexamfetamine-BED study was published in the JAMA psychiatric journal (ref: ). Vyvanse is Shire’s brand name; lisdexamfetamine is the generic name for this medication.

Research shows astonishing effectiveness in treatment of binge eating disorder. Some participants in the trial actually stopped binge eating, others slowed down, compared to the control group. And they lost weight, too. Not a lot of weight, to be sure, but the trial lasted only four weeks. The follow-up period was three weeks.

Not surprisingly, some of the trial participants dropped out because of  side effects from Vyvanse. One died of methamphetamine overdose despite having no prior drug dependence;  researchers say the death was unrelated to the study. There was evidence of increased heart rate, which is also reported among ADHD patients.  This study reports that the increased heart rate was within “a known safety profile.”

I’m sure Shire is delighted to divert some of its sales force from the ADHD market to diet docs and obesity clinics. And there will be some stellar results for binge eaters, a serious condition that can be life-threatening. Young women with ADHD also tend to have more eating disorders, so perhaps this is doubly beneficial.

But I always err on the side of caution when new meds are released into the market (I know this is merely an additional use, not a new drug!). The trial ran for four weeks; followup was three weeks. Seven weeks does not indicate the effectiveness or potential side effects from long term use. Do binge eaters curb their appetite without the medication after four weeks?

I notice that a high percentage of research articles conclude with a caveat that further study is needed. This article was no exception: it reported that more investigation is ongoing, yet the FDA approved the additional use. The truth is that Vyvanse is a controlled sustance with a black box warning about the high risk of abuse. Read the fine print on the warning label here:

What do you think? Does Vyvanse help curb your appetite? Do you know a binge eater who might benefit from this medication? Are YOU a binge eater with ADHD wht has seen a positive effect with  lisdexamfetamine/Vyvanse? I’m on the fence — would love to hear from you.