Nancy Collins, PhD, RD, LD/N, FAPWCA; and Allison Schnitzer, Dietetics Student
Dietitians who work with patients who are losing weight because of illness, depression, or other physical impediments that prevent them from consuming a proper diet always are looking for ways to enhance appetite and restore lost pounds. Here is a cautionary tale on how a commonly used pharmaceutical product went astray.
On March 5, 2013, New Jersey-based Par Pharmaceutical pleaded guilty in federal court to promoting its AIDS appetite drug megestrol acetate (Megace ES) for the offlabel use of weight gain in senior citizens. Megace ES is a synthetic derivative of the naturally occurring steroid hormone progesterone. In July 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug for the treatment of anorexia, cachexia, or unexplained significant weight loss in patients with AIDS, although the exact mechanism for how megestrol acetate produces results in anorexia and cachexia still is not known.