What is prescription weight loss medicines?

Jump To

What are some examples of prescription weight-loss medicines?

Here are some examples of weight-loss medicines. For each item in the list, the generic name is first, followed by any brand names.

  • Bupropion/naltrexone (Contrave): This medicine may reduce your appetite. It may help you avoid overeating.
  • Liraglutide (Saxenda): You take this medicine as a shot once a day. It may help you eat less.
  • Orlistat (Xenical). Orlistat prevents some of the fat calories you eat from being absorbed in your intestines. Prescription-strength orlistat is the only weight-loss medicine that is approved for children. It is meant to be used only in children over the age of 12. It's also available without a prescription under the brand name Alli. Alli is half as strong as Xenical. It should not be used by anyone under the age of 18.
  • Phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia): This medicine combines the drugs phentermine and topiramate. Taking it once a day can help you eat less.

How well do prescription weight-loss medicines work?

Different medicines produce different results in different people.

Studies show that when people took:

  • Bupropion/naltrexone (Contrave), some lost 8 to 11 pounds.
  • Liraglutide (Saxenda), some lost 8 to 13 pounds.
  • Orlistat (Xenical), some lost 6 to 7 pounds.
  • Phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia), some lost 9 to 24 pounds.

Weight-loss medicines are used along with healthy eating and being more active. Without those lifestyle changes, you will gain the weight back if you stop taking the medicine. Many people regain the weight they lost after they quit taking the medicines.

Medicine doesn't work for everyone. If you don't lose weight within 4 weeks after you start the medicine, it probably won't help you.

What should you know about the cost of prescription weight-loss medicine?

Weight-loss medicines can range in cost. But they can be expensive. If you need a weight-loss medicine, make sure you know how much you will have to pay. Find out about how your insurance covers the cost of these medicines. Many insurance companies list this information on their websites.

What are the risks of using prescription weight-loss medicines?

Using weight-loss medicines can put you at risk for increased blood pressure, a faster heart rate, headaches, sleep problems, and unpleasant changes in bowel habits. It is possible to misuse some of these medicines. Weight-loss medicines also can harm unborn babies. Women who are pregnant should not take these medicines.

Why are weight loss medicines used?

Doctors prescribe weight loss medicines for people who are obese or overweight and have other health problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. These medicines may help some people who haven't been able to lose weight with diet and exercise.

What are the side effects of prescription weight-loss medicines?

Most weight-loss medicines have side effects like nausea, vomiting, headaches, and constipation. Some medicines are more likely to cause side effects than others. For example, nausea is a common side effect of Contrave and Saxenda. Xenical can cause changes in bowel habits. These changes may include oily or fatty stool and being unable to control bowel movements. Sometimes the side effects are mild and go away over time.

Research shows that up to half of people who take weight-loss medicines quit because of side effects.

If your doctor prescribes a weight-loss medicine for you, tell them about all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements that you take.

Your doctor will want to know about any side effects you have. The doctor will watch to see if your weight loss improves your type 2 diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.