On June 11, a new prescription weight-loss medication that combines a popular antidepressant with a medication for addiction will be reviewed by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for potential approval.
Losing excess weight and keeping it off is not as easy as simply popping the right pill, but medications can be a part of a healthy weight-loss diet, says an internationally recognized medical weight-loss specialist. “Prescription drugs are no substitute for low-fat, high-fiber balanced diets coupled with regular exercise but medication can help increase weight loss in some people,” says Bipan Chand, MD, FACS, FASMBS, FASGE, director of The Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care.
Americans spend an estimated $ 20 billion annually on weight-loss products, including medications.
The new prescription medication is a combination of two FDA-approved drugs, bupropion, an antidepressant and naltrexone, which reduces the desire for drugs and alcohol. Both have been found to increase weight-loss in independent research trials and the partnering of the two in one capsule is believed to create a synergistic effect. In clinical trials, patients taking the new medication combined with diet and exercise lost more weight than those taking a placebo and following the same diet and exercise regimen.
In a 56 week period, the non-medicated group lost 11 — 16 pounds while the medicated patients lost 20 — 23 pounds. In February, 2011, the FDA requested a large-scale study of the long-term cardiovascular effects of the drug before considering approval.
“Many medications for various conditions have been found to have weight-loss as a side effect, and conversely, many medications can cause weight gain,” says Chand. Weight-loss medications commonly involve an appetite suppressant and increase in metabolism. But not all patients can tolerate prescription weight-loss medication. “Many obese patients are on medication for chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression and diabetes,” says Chand. “Adding another medication must be carefully assessed to make sure it has a positive and not a negative effect on the patient’s health.”
More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese and one in three American children and teens suffer from obesity.
“Behavioral therapy, nutrition counseling, physical exercise, surgery as well as medication are all implements in the weight-loss tool box,” said Chand who is a board-certified metabolic surgeon at Loyola, an accredited Level 1 facility under the Bariatric Surgery Center Network (BSCN) Accreditation Program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS).
“Bariatric surgery has been the most effective tool in achieving long-term weightloss, which leads to overall improvement in health, reducing or eliminating chronic conditions and medications and increasing years of life,” says Chand, who performs bariatric surgeries.
“At Loyola, we treat obesity as a complex disease and design a treatment solution tailored to each patient,” says Chand. “Medication may be prescribed but so is meeting with a dietitian to design a better diet, attending support groups for education and encouragement, working with
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