Pros and Cons of Prescription Weight Loss Drugs


Pros and Cons of Prescription Weight Loss Drugs. I think this is vital information to have if you’ve struggled with weight loss and have serious health problems because of your weight. If lifestyle changes haven’t resulted in significant weight loss — prescription weight loss drugs may be an option. You should know, though, that prescription weight loss drugs won’t replace the need to make healthy changes in your eating habits and increasing your activity level.

Who is a Candidate for Prescription Weight Loss Drugs?

People who can’t lose weight through diet and exercise are candidates for prescription weight loss drugs. Those individuals who have health problems because of their being overweight. They’re not for people who want to lose just a few pounds for cosmetic reasons.

If you haven’t been able to lose weight through diet and exercise and you meet one of the following requirements your doctor may consider weight-loss drugs for you:

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  • Your body mass index (BMI) is higher than 30.
  • You have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 27, and you have a severe medical problem related to obesity.
  • Your doctor considers your health history, possible side effects of the medications and interaction with other medications you’re taking before selecting a drug for you.

How well do Prescription Weight Loss Drugs work?

Weight-loss drugs can produce an average weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of total body weight within a year when combined with a low-calorie diet and regular exercise. Diet, exercise, and medications are each responsible for part of this weight loss.

Losing 5 to 10 percent of your total weight may not seem like much. However, even modest weight loss can improve your health by:

  • Decreasing blood pressure
  • Decreasing lipid levels
  • Increasing insulin sensitivity
  • Lowering blood glucose levels

It’s important to keep in mind that these medications may not work for everyone. You’re likely to regain much or all of the weight you lost, once you stop taking these medications.

Common  Prescription Weight Loss Drugs

Listed below are the commonly available prescription weight loss drugs, how they work and their side effects:

prescription weight loss drugs
Benzphetamine (Didrex)
How it works:
  • Decreases appetite, increases the feeling of fullness
Side effects:
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate, nervousness, insomnia, dry mouth, constipation
Diethylpropion (Tenuate)
How it works:
  • Decreases appetite, increases the feeling of fullness
Side effects:
  • A headache increased blood pressure and heart rate, nervousness, insomnia, dry mouth, constipation
Lorcaserin (Belviq)
How it works:
prescription weight loss drugs
  • Decreases appetite, increases the feeling of fullness
Side effects:
  • A headache, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, constipation
Naltrexone and Bupropion extended-release (Contrave)
How it works:
  • Decreases appetite, increases the feeling of fullness
Side effects:
  • Nausea, constipation, headache, vomiting, dizziness
How it works:
  • It reduces appetite and increases the feeling of fullness
Side effects:
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate, nervousness, insomnia, dry mouth, constipation
Phentermine (Adipex-P, Suprenza)
How it works:
  • Decreases appetite, increases the feeling of fullness
Side effects:
  • A headache increased blood pressure and heart rate, nervousness, insomnia, dry mouth, constipation

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Orlistat (Xenical)
How it works:
  • It blocks the absorption of fat
Side effects:
  • It decreases absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, oily spotting, increases intestinal cramps, gas with discharge, diarrhea, fecal urgency and incontinence
Phentermine and topiramate extended-release (Qsymia)
How it works:
  • Reduces appetite, and enhances the feeling of being full
Side effects:
  • Insomnia, dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, pins and needles feeling, changes in the sense of taste and smell
Liraglutide (Saxenda)
How it works:
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Saxenda Pen
  • Slows gastric emptying and increases the feeling of fullness
Side effects:
  • Nausea, vomiting, pancreatitis

Drugs used for short-term are

Diethylpropion (Tenuate), Phentermine (Adipex-P), Benzphetamine (Didrex) and Phendimetrazine are classified as controlled substances and are for short-term use only. Usually for less than 12 weeks. Furthermore, if you have heart disease, high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism these drugs are not recommended because of possible side effects.

Drugs used for long-term care

Orlistat (Xenical), Lorcaserin (Belviq), Phentermine-Topiramate (Qsymia), Naltrexone-Bupropion (Contrave) and Liraglutide (Saxenda) are approved for long-term use. Orlistat is also available in a reduced-strength form without a prescription (Alli). Limiting your intake of dietary fat is critical when taking orlistat to minimize side effects.

prescription weight loss drugs

Once Orlistat got approved by the FDA, there were rare cases of severe liver injury reported by some people using it. However, no evidence was established linking Orlistat as the cause of the reported liver injuries. As a result, Xenical and Alli labels now advise people taking orlistat to be alert to signs and symptoms that could indicate liver injuries (such as itching, loss of appetite, yellow eyes or skin, light-colored stool, or brown urine).

Lorcaserin (Belviq) has raised concerns because it works somewhat like fenfluramine. Fenfluramine was withdrawn from the market because it damaged heart valves. However, no evidence has been established linking Belviq and damaged heart valves. Belviq may increase heart rate, so people taking it may need to have their heart rate checked.

FDA Required Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS)

The combination drug Qsymia (phentermine and topiramate) increases the risk of congenital disabilities. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required the manufacturer to have a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS). The REMS is to alert women to the risks and explain the need to avoid becoming pregnant while taking Qsymia. One of the ingredients (phentermine) in Qsymia has shown the potential for abuse. Therefore, it’s considered a controlled substance.

The combination drug Contrave contains naltrexone and bupropion. Naltrexone’s primary use is to treat alcohol and opioid dependence. And bupropion is an antidepressant that can reduce the risk of weight gain in people who are trying to quit smoking. Contrave has also shown it can raise heart rate, blood pressure and may increase the risk of seizures. Bupropion may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

The newest drug to be approved for weight loss is Liraglutide (Saxenda), and it’s administered by injection once daily. The FDA approved Saxenda with the requirement that the manufacturer has a REMS to informing doctors about the serious risks associated with the drug. Tumors of the thyroid gland have been observed in animal studies. But that it is unknown whether Saxenda causes these tumors in humans.

Factors to consider

If you meet the criteria for prescription weight loss drugs, your doctor will evaluate the potential benefits against the possible risks of taking the weight loss medication.

Cost also is a consideration. Not all health insurance plans cover prescription weight loss drugs. Adverse effects are common with weight loss drugs, which may make it hard to stick with treatment.

Furthermore, make sure that you take every effort to exercise, change your diet and any other lifestyle factors that might have contributed to your excess weight as you consider weight loss drugs.

There isn’t an easy answer to weight loss, but weight loss drugs can be a useful tool to help you lose weight. You’ll also need to make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes required to lose weight. Therefore, keeping off the pounds you’ve lost will be an ongoing concern. Many people, despite all their efforts, still regain the weight.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you have anything that you’d like to share or any opinions on any of the content on my site, please do speak up. I look forward to your comments, questions, and the sharing of ideas.

Note: Thank you for supporting this website through purchases you make on the provided affiliate links.
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6 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Prescription Weight Loss Drugs

  1. In this day and time more and more people are becoming more health conscious about keeping their weight under control because of many have health issues because of having to much weight. What you are sharing here is good to know and it does give persons an option in which direction to go. I believe that losing weight and keep that weight off is really great.

    1. Thank-you Norman for your comments. Obesity has become a very serious health concern and what I’m trying to do is bring awareness to the situation. It’s not all gloom and dume. I offer all kinds of helpful information for people to live a healthy lifestyle. I hope you’ll return so to find more helpful articles. Thanks again for you comments.

  2. Hey Robert, I was wondering if part of the prescription with these drugs is to combine taking the pill with a diet change or workout regimen. Or do you just take the pills and since they decrease appetite, the rest will take care of itself?
    It’s always interesting to see the wide range of drugs like these that are available but I get a little bit skeptical when something seems that easy to accomplish such a heavy task, pun intended.

    1. Hey Dom, to answer your question a person would need to make healthy diet, exercise activity and lifestyle changes in conjunction with the meds. Unfortunately there isn’t a magic pill to take. These meds are for people who haven’t been able to lose weight and have serious health risk because of their weight. They are not to be used lightly because of there side effects. Thanks for your comments.

  3. Wow, I never realised how many weight loss drugs are out there, nor the possible side effects.
    I have struggled all my life to keep the weight off (like many I’m sure) and I know for a fact there is no easy one size fits all path, especially if you like your food and have food addictions blood sugar problems etc.

    I am in the health industry and this post has opened my eyes up to things that I never knew existed so thanks.

    Great article!

    1. Thank-you so much for your comments. It’s gratifying to learn that my article was helpful to you. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do with our website. To help people learn about all kinds of different health topics. I hope you’ll visit again. Thanks again.

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