FDA Approved Weight Loss Pills

For some people, combining weight loss medications with lifestyle and behavioral changes results in a weight loss of 10 percent to 12 percent. However, not all available weight loss medications are for everyone. Whether or not to include medications in your treatment plan will be given careful consideration, depending on your individual health situation.

Drug therapy for obesity is still in its infancy. There are currently a few FDA-approved weight loss drugs that work by decreasing your appetite. Prescription weight loss pills include Contrave® (bupropion/naltrexone), Qsymia® (phentermine/ topiramate) and Adipex® (phentermine). Appetite suppressants are only effective with diet and exercise and can only be prescribed for people who don’t have complicated health histories.

Saxenda® (liraglutide) and Wegovy® (semaglutide) are long-acting drugs whose physical structure is like the hormone GLP-1, which the intestines secrete in response to the presence of food. Among other effects, GLP-1 delays stomach emptying and promotes a feeling of fullness after eating.

Orlistat (Xenical®), available by prescription and Alli® (available over the counter) work by decreasing the absorption of fat by the digestive system. 

Who is a Candidate for Weight Loss Medications?

Most prescription medications are only recommended for people with a BMI (body mass index) higher than 30, or a BMI higher than 27 with other risk factors (e.g., diabetes, high cholesterol, controlled high blood pressure).

Many people suffering from obesity are not good candidates for these weight loss medications due to other health conditions. The most effective way to reduce weight long term is gradual lifestyle modification through diet and exercise. 

There are several weight loss medications currently being tested in clinical trials. Several have fulfilled effectiveness and safety criteria and are in the FDA approval process.

Managing High Blood Pressure and Diabetes Medications During Weight Loss

Conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes go hand in hand with obesity, and together they constitute what is known as metabolic syndrome. If you and your doctor desire, your weight management team will treat you for these contributing conditions as part of the weight loss process. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure and it isn’t well-controlled, an adjustment in medication may be helpful. Your weight loss team will also monitor you for any medication side effects.

Insulin Reduction for Type 2 Diabetes

As you lose weight, the need for hypertension drugs or insulin may decrease and dosage is modified accordingly. Often, an individual with type 2 diabetes (a condition where the body still produces insulin, but the cells are resistant to the effects of insulin) can get off of insulin when they make the necessary lifestyle changes, such as following a wholesome meal plan and exercise routine.

As the weight is lost, insulin requirements are often less. As more and more weight is lost and insulin requirements dwindle, a decision can be made with your healthcare team as to whether insulin is necessary. People who have type 1 diabetes will always require insulin.

In other cases, a patient may be receiving treatment for an unrelated condition with medications that can cause weight gain. Every attempt is made to modify medications so that you can achieve weight loss successfully.

The specialists in our Medical Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery Program in conjunction with your doctor on managing medications you may take for other conditions.