Use of Weight Loss Drugs & Pharmacology to Treat Obese Patients and Improve Weight Control
About Obesity Medications
Obesity or severe overweight requires long-term treatment in order to achieve lasting weight loss and control. As in other chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, long-term use of prescription medications may be appropriate for some obese patients. That said, only Orlistat/Xenical and Sibutramine/Meridia weight loss drugs are approved by the FDA for long-term use. In addition, like all medications, anti-obesity drugs can have side-effects. Most are mild, but some serious complications have been reported.
Above all, remember that these anti-obesity drugs are not a cure-all. The use of weight-loss medications should be combined with physical activity and improved diet to lose and maintain weight successfully over the long term.
Should You Use Anti-Obesity Drugs?
Using prescription drugs to treat obesity may be an option for the following overweight patients:
What Drugs Are Used to Treat Obesity?
Currently, most anti-obesity drugs are approved by the FDA for short-term use, meaning a few weeks or months.
Most available anti-obesity drugs are appetite-suppressant medications. These include: Didrex, Tenuate, Sanorex, Mazanor, Adipex and Meridia. These medications generally come in the form of tablets or extended-release capsules (pills that release medication over a long period of time). Appetite suppressants can be obtained by a doctor's prescription or purchased over-the-counter.
In the mid 1990s doctors prescribed the popular appetite suppressant Redux or the combination of phentermine and fenfluramine, called "Phen-fen." However fenfluramine (Pondimin) and Redux were withdrawn from the market in 1997 because they caused damage to heart valves. Phentermine is still available. Taking phentermine alone has not been associated with the adverse health effects of the fenfluramine-phentermine combination.
Another type of prescription weight loss drug is a fat absorption inhibitor. Xenical is the only example of this type of treatment approved for use in the U.S. Xenical works by blocking about 30 percent of dietary fat from being absorbed, and is the most recently approved weight loss drug
Meridia and Xenical are the only weight-loss medications approved for longer-term use in significantly obese people, although the safety and effectiveness have not been established for use beyond 1 year.
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