What are Weight Loss Medications?

Anti-obesity drugs or diet pills are prescription weight loss medications prescribed as an additional treatment for weight-loss. The complete weight-loss program includes regular exercise and low calorie and low-fat diet plan.

Weight loss drugs that suppress the appetite as are called anorexiants. Several weight-loss medications contain a stimulant. They belong to the controlled substances under the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved the first two weight-loss medications, Belviq and Qsymia, in 2012. Since then, many new weight loss drugs got approval by the FDA, including Saxenda, Contrave, and Belviq XR.

Obese or overweight patients with any health conditions should consult a medical professional before starting a weight loss or exercise program.

Over the counter or non-prescription medications are also available for effective weight loss. One such non-prescription medication is Ali (orlistat), a low-strength version of prescription medication Xenical.

Food and Drug Administration of the United States does not approve dietary supplements or herbal products for weight loss. However, people trying to lose weight take these drugs. It is better to consult a healthcare professional before using herbal or dietary products for losing weight.

How Much Weight Can I Lose with Diet Weight Loss Pills?

Prescription weight loss medications are for those patients who are suffering from serious health risks such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Diet pills are helpful for these people as they cannot control their weight with exercise and diet alone. Never use weight-loss medications as a substitute for a regular exercise program or healthful eating.

Patients on weight loss medication may roughly lose 5-10% of their initial weight over one year. To achieve and sustain clinical weight-loss, an individual should at least lose 5% of initial body weight after 12 weeks.

Common Weight Loss Medications or “Diet Pills”

Brand Name Generic Name Description Controlled Substance?
Adipex-P Phentermine Appetite-suppressant, anorectic Yes, Schedule IV under DEA.
Alli Orlistat Inhibits fat absorption in the intestine, and lipase inhibitor No, non-prescription drug
Belviq, Belviq XR Lorcaserin Promotes a feeling of fullness and satiety, and a selective serotonin 2C receptor agonist Yes, Schedule IV under DEA
Bontril PDM Phendimetrazine Anorectic and appetite-suppressant Yes, Schedule III under DEA
Desoxyn Methamphetamine Appetite-suppressant, use cautiously for weight loss due to a high risk of abuse and misuse Yes, Schedule II under DEA
Didrex Benzphetamine Anorectic and appetite-suppressant Yes, Schedule III under DEA
Diethylpropion Diethylpropion Anorectic and appetite-suppressant Yes, Schedule IV under DEA.
Meridia Sibutramine Anorectic; withdrawn from markets in the USA due to high risk of heart failure Not available
Qsymia Phentermine and topiramate extended-release capsules Anorectic, combination appetite-suppressant Yes, Schedule Iv under DEA
Suprenza Phentermine Anorectic and appetite-suppressant Yes, Schedule Iv under DEA
Xenical Orlistat The prescription form of Ali; lipase inhibitor; inhibits fat absorption; higher dose than Ali No
Contrave Bupropion hydrochloride-naltrexone hydrochloride Suppress appetite, increases metabolism affects the central reward center No
Saxenda Liraglutide GLP-1 regulates the area of the brain involved with appetite No

How Effective are Weight Loss Medications?

Weight loss medications don’t always work for everyone. Usually, a person loses one to two pounds of weight safely per week.

Typically, an individual loses 5% to 10% of the initial body weight over 12 months while using weight loss medication along with diet and exercise plan.

For example, a person weighing 200 pounds would safely lose 10 to 20 pounds over the 12 months. This amount of weight loss may seem small, but clinically it is enough to manage high blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Who Should Use Diet Pills?

use diet pills
In the general run of things, overweight people should initially try to lose weight using exercise and diet plans. Prescription weight loss medications are for use in severe circumstances, when other weight loss measures are not successful, and the patient has significant health risks associated with being obese or over-weight. Always use a diet plan and exercise in conjunction with prescription diet pills.

Prescription weight-loss drugs generally contain a note in the packaging label that a person needs to meet specific requirements such as having severe medical risks or a specified BMI (Body Mass Index), before using the medication.

Weight loss pills are usually for obese patients who have an initial body mass index (BMI) higher than 30kg/m2 or patients with BMI greater than 27kg/m2 having health conditions (type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol).

Severe health risks can include:

  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke risk
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep apnea

What are the Risks of Losing Weight During Pregnancy?

Additional weight gain or no weight loss is recommendable for all pregnant women, including those who are already obese or overweight.

It is not advisable to use weight-loss medications during pregnancy. Weight loss drugs come under pregnancy category X, which means they are not recommended to use in pregnancy. No potential benefit is achievable from weight-loss during pregnancy. Diet pills can harm a fetus. Consult a doctor about much weight one should gain during pregnancy and in how much time.