February 2, 2015 8:59 am
Updated: February 2, 2015 9:18 am

FDA approves an ADHD drug as treatment for binge-eating disorder

A person shops on May 7, 2014 in New York City.

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WASHINGTON – Federal health regulators have approved an attention deficit disorder drug for a new use: A first-of-its kind treatment for binge-eating disorder.

About 2 per cent of U.S. adults, or about 5 million people, have binge eating disorder, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Standard treatment for binge eating and other eating disorders usually involves counselling and psychotherapy. Some doctors also prescribe antidepressants to try and curb eating disorders, though they are not approved for that use.

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The Food and Drug Administration originally approved Vyvanse in 2007 as a once-a-day pill for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. On Friday the agency cleared the drug for adults who compulsively overeat.

READ MORE: 6 misconceptions about nutrition and healthy eating

Vyvanse, known chemically as lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, is part of a family of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system.

The drug’s prescribing label warns that Vyvanse has a “high potential for abuse and dependence,” and doctors should monitor patients for signs of dependence.

Serious adverse events associated with Vyvanse can include psychiatric problems like hallucinations and mania as well as heart complications. More common side effects include sleeplessness, increased heart rate, constipation and anxiety.

READ MORE: Binge-eating and bulimia have more in common than doctors realize

Regulators approved the new use for binge eating based on two studies in which adults with a history of the disorder eating had fewer instances per week while taking Vyvanse, when compared with those getting a placebo.

The drug is not approved for weight loss.

Manufacturer Shire PLC reported sales of $1.07 billion for the drug in the first nine months of 2014.

Shire is an Irish-headquartered company based on the island of Jersey.

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