A Rundown on Prescription Drugs for Weight Loss

by Chrissie Seals, WHNP, Salud Spa

The key to successful weight loss is determination. We all know the healthy behaviors we should be doing: exercise, healthy eating, drinking enough water. Prescription medication may be a tool that helps an individual stick to the plan.

What medications are available?

The most popular and widely used medication for weight loss is phentermine. It is a controlled substance, labelled by the FDA as an appetite suppressant and recommended for short-term use in patients who qualify medically.

Phentermine may raise blood pressure and heart rate or interact with other prescribed medications, alcohol or over-the-counter medications.

Combined with other healthy behaviors, patients often lose 10 pounds in the first month. In recent years, Qsymia was developed, which is phentermine and topiramate, a neuro-stabilizer, combined and touted as the most effective of prescription weight-loss medications.

The combination has been studied with successful weight loss up to 18 months and may be a better option for some patients. Topiramate has many side effects, and its use should be carefully discussed with a medical provider.

Contrave is a weight loss medication that was initially approved in 2014 in the United States. It is comprised of bupropion, an antidepressant, and naltrexone, a medication used to treat addiction. Contrave suppresses the natural good feeling an individual feels after eating certain foods or overeating.

Success in clinical trials was a 4% weight loss in about four months. As with all prescriptions, there may be side effects, and this medication may not be recommended for all patients.

Saxenda is an injectable medication that helps patient lose on average 10% of their body weight over six months. This prescription injectable works by creating a feeling of fullness and decreases appetite.

The effect of Saxenda is not immediate, it takes about two weeks to begin to work. There are risks and side effects that must be discussed with your medical provider prior to considering this medication.

Prescription medication for weight loss may be beneficial to a successful weight-loss program. Medication may give patients the additional boost that coupled with lifestyle changes allows for a successful transition to a healthier weight.