6 Weight Loss Prescription Pills Your Doctor May Suggest

Source – Glamour

The fundamentals of long-term weight reduction are eating less unhealthy food and exercising more. Prescription weight loss drugs and medications may be beneficial for certain individuals.


Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 17 Dec 2021.

6 Weight Loss Prescription Pills Your Doctor May Suggest

While taking these medications, you’ll still need to pay attention to your food and exercise, and they’re not for everyone.

Doctors generally only recommend them if your BMI is 30 or more, or if it’s at least 27, and you have a weight-related disease, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

In 2021, the FDA approved the drug semaglutide (Wegovy) for the treatment of obesity. Liraglutide (Saxenda), naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave), orlistat (Alli, Xenical), phentermine (Adipex-P, Ionamin, Pro-Fast), and phentermine-topiramate are some of the most well-known prescription weight-loss medications (Qsymia).

Tell your doctor about your medical history before you obtain a prescription for a weight reduction medication. This includes any allergies or other conditions you may have, as well as any medications or supplements you’re taking (even if they’re herbal or natural) and if you’re pregnant, nursing, or intending to become pregnant soon.

Liraglutide (Saxenda)

How it works: Liraglutide is a stronger version of Victoza, a type 2 diabetes medication. It works by simulating an intestinal hormone that signals your brain when your stomach is full.

Are they approved for long-term use? Yes.

Side effects: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, low blood pressure, and an increased appetite are symptoms of this condition. Raised heart rate, pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, renal issues, and suicidal thoughts are serious adverse effects. Liraglutide has been found to induce thyroid tumours in animals in experiments; however, it is unknown if it may cause thyroid cancer in people.

What else you should know: According to the FDA, if you don’t lose 4% of your body weight after 16 weeks on Liraglutide, your doctor may advise you to stop taking it since it’s unlikely to work for you.

Naltrexone HCl and bupropion (Contrave)

How it works: Contrave is an extended-release formulation of two FDA-approved medicines, naltrexone and bupropion. Naltrexone is a medication that is used to treat alcohol and opiate addiction. Bupropion is a medication authorised to treat depression, seasonal affective disorder and aid in smoking cessation.

Is it safe to use for a long time? Yes.

Side effects: Nausea, constipation, headache, vomiting, dizziness, insomnia, and dry mouth are the most frequent adverse effects. Bupropion is linked with an elevated risk of suicidal thoughts and actions, according to Contrave’s boxed warning. Bupropion has been related to severe neuropsychiatric problems, according to the sign. Contrave can induce seizures and should not be taken in those who have them. The medication may also raise blood pressure and heart rate.

What else you should know: According to the FDA, if you don’t lose 5% of your weight after 12 weeks on Contrave, your doctor may advise you to stop taking it since it’s unlikely to work for you.

Orlistat (Xenical)

How it works: About a third of the fat you consume is blocked from being absorbed by your body.

Xenical is the brand name for orlistat, which a doctor prescribes. It’s called Alli if you buy it without a prescription, and it contains half the dosage of Xenical.

Are they approved for long-term use? Yes.

Side effects such as stomach cramps, gas, leaking greasy faeces, having more bowel movements, and not regulating bowel motions are only a few of the symptoms.

These side effects are usually minor and only last a short time. However, if you consume a lot of high-fat meals, they may become worse.

Rare instances of severe liver damage have been recorded among orlistat users, although it’s unclear if the medication is to blame.

What else you should know: Before using orlistat, you should be on a low-fat diet (less than 30% of your daily calories should come from fat).

Also, take a multivitamin at least 2 hours before or after taking orlistat since the medication makes it difficult for your body to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K for a short time.

Orlistat is the only medication of its type that has received FDA approval in the United States. All other prescription appetite suppressants, including the ones listed below, work by suppressing your hunger.

source - cleveland clinic

Phentermine

How it works: It suppresses your appetite.

Your doctor may prescribe this medication under the names Adipex or Suprenza.

Are they approved for long-term use? No. It’s only authorised for a limited period (a few weeks).

Side effects may be dangerous, causing high blood pressure, heart palpitations, restlessness, dizziness, tremor, insomnia, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, and difficulty doing previously performed tasks. Dry mouth, bad taste, diarrhoea, constipation, and vomiting are less severe side effects.

There is a danger of getting addicted to the medication, just as with certain other appetite suppressants.

It’s best to avoid taking it late at night since it may induce insomnia.

Tell your doctor before starting phentermine if you use insulin for diabetes since your insulin dosage may need to be adjusted.

If you have a history of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, or uncontrolled high blood pressure, you should avoid using phentermine. If you have glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, a history of drug addiction, pregnancy, or breastfeeding, you should not take it.

What else you should know: Phentermine is an amphetamine. Because of the risk of addiction or misuse, stimulant medicines are classified as “controlled substances," requiring a specific prescription.

Phentermine and topiramate (Qsymia)

How it works: It suppresses your appetite.

Qsymia is a combination of phentermine and topiramate, a seizure and migraine medication. Topiramate helps you lose weight by making you feel full, making meals tasteless attractive, and increasing your calorie burn.

Are they approved for long-term use? Yes. The quantity of phentermine and topiramate in Qsymia is considerably smaller than when these medications are taken alone.

Side effects: Tingling hands and feet, disorientation, changed the perception of taste, insomnia, diarrhoea, and dry mouth are the most frequent adverse effects.

Specific birth abnormalities (cleft lip and palate), a higher heart rate, suicidal thoughts or acts, and eye issues that may lead to irreversible vision loss if not addressed are all serious adverse effects.

Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should obtain a pregnancy test before starting Qsymia and continue to use birth control, and receive monthly pregnancy tests while on the medication.

If you have glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, heart disease, or stroke, you should not use Qsymia. When you first start taking the medication or increase the dosage, get your heart checked regularly.

What else you should know: The FDA advises that if you don’t lose at least 3% of your body weight after 12 weeks on Qsymia, you stop taking it or have your doctor raise your dosage for the following 12 weeks, and if that doesn’t work, you gradually stop using it.

Semaglutide (Wegovy)

How it works: Semaglutide reduces hunger and makes you feel full by mimicking an intestinal hormone that promotes insulin production.

Semaglutide was first authorised to treat type 2 diabetes, and it’s sold under the brand names Ozempic and Rybelsus. It is designed especially for the treatment of obesity, according to Wegovy.

Are they approved for long-term use? Yes.

Side effects such as stomach cramps, constipation, vomiting, passing gas, headache, fatigue, and gastro reflux are just a few symptoms.

These side effects are usually minor and only last a short time.

Issues with the kidney, as well as impaired eyesight, have happened in rare cases. The use of semaglutide has been related to pancreatic disease (pancreatitis). If you experience signs of pancreatitis, such as severe stomach/abdominal pain or nausea/vomiting that won’t stop, seek medical assistance immediately.

What else you should know: To control your weight, it seems that you will need to take semaglutide for the rest of your life. If you stop taking it, you may regain much of the weight you’ve lost.

In addition, you should eat a low-calorie diet and exercise often.

Sources

  1. https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/weight-loss-prescription-weight-loss-medicine#1 
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease: “Prescription Medications for the Treatment of Obesity."
  3. FDA: “FDA Drug Safety Communication: Completed Safety Review of Xenical/Alli (orlistat) and Severe Liver Injury" and “Medications Target Long-Term Weight Control."
  4. MedlinePlus: “Phentermine."
  5. News release, FDA.
  6. MedlinePlus.
  7. UpToDate.
  8. Qsymia.com.
  9. novo-pi.com: “Saxenda."
  10. static.contrave.com: “Contrave."

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