6 Common OTC and Prescription Weight Loss Drugs

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

To control weight, doctors recommend adopting a low-calorie diet and combining it with regular exercise. But not a lot of people are able to drop weight as fast that’s why over-the-counter and prescription weight loss drugs are also recommended by doctors, especially for diabetic or morbidly obese individuals.

At the moment, there are six weight loss drugs that are available in your local pharmacy. These weight loss medications are: orlistat, Lorcaserin, Contrave, Liraglutide, phentermine, and Qsymia. In today’s post, we will look deeper on every drug to help you determine the one that suits you best:

1. Orlistat

Orlistat helps block the absorption of fat from the food you eat into the bloodstream. The most common of all Orlistat medication is Xenical, which you can get without a prescription. For prescription Orlistat, the most common drug is Alli.

Orlistat medication is approved by the FDA for long-term use. However, it has a variety of side effects. These side effects include stomach cramps, excessive gas and leaky, oily stool. Other side effects include diarrhea and lack of control over bowel movement. In extremely rare cases, Orlistat can cause liver damage. But health experts do not know how the medication causes liver problems.

To minimize these side effects, do not eat oily foods. Side effects like oily stool and lack of control over bowel movement are minimized when eating high-fiber, low-fat foods.

2. Lorcaserin

Lorcaserin is a weight loss drug under the trade name Belviq. This anti-obesity medication helps suppress the appetite and induce weight loss. The drug promises 5% body weight loss in 12 weeks of use.

Lorcaserin is approved by the FDA for long-term use but again, expect several side effects. These side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, and constipation. Nausea, headaches, and back pain are also side effects of the drug.

Diabetics and hypoglycemic individuals are more prone to side effects than normal users. Those who are taking anti-depression medications should only take Lorcaserin under doctor’s supervision.

3. Contrave

Contrave is a combination of two weight loss drugs: bupropion and naltrexone. Naltrexone is meant to treat alcohol and opioid dependence while bupropion is used to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder. Together, bupropion and naltrexone helps suppress the appetite and promote weight loss. The drug promises 5% body weight loss in 12 weeks of use.

Side effects include vomiting, nausea, insomnia, diarrhea and dry mouth.  Serious side effects include suicidal thoughts, severe neuropsychiatric issues, seizures and increased blood pressure and heart rate.

4. Liraglutide

Sold under the trade name Saxenda, liraglutide is a long-acting glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist that suppresses the appetite. The drug fools the brain into thinking that the stomach is full. Liraglutide works by mimicking the hormone that generates a signal to the brain that it is satiated. The drug promises 4% body weight loss in 16 weeks of use.

Liraglutide’s side effects include nausea, constipation, low blood pressure and diarrhea. Serious side effects include pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, and kidney problems. In some cases, liraglutide can cause suicidal thoughts and depression.

5. Phentermine

Phentermine is a psycho-stimulant that controls cravings and boost satiety. It’s prescribed under the names Adipex or Suprenza. Phentermine is not recommended for long-term use because of its extreme side effects. Mild side effects range from insomnia to diarrhea. Severe side effects include drowsiness, accelerated heart beat and concentration loss. It can cause tremors, restlessness, shortness of breath and chest pain.

People with a history of cardiovascular diseases, addictive personalities, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or heart failure should not take this drug. Those with a history of substance abuse should also refrain from taking phentermine because the drug is an amphetamine.

6. Qsymia

Qsymia is the trade name of a weight loss drug that combines phentermine with topiramate. Topiramate is a migraine medication that can induce weight loss. Phentermine is a psycho-stimulant derived from amphetamine. The drug promises 3% body weight loss in 12 weeks of use.

Qsymia’s side effects include nausea, dizziness, distorted sense of taste and insomnia. Severe side effects include birth defects, suicidal thoughts and actions, and permanent vision loss. Qsymia is not recommended for long-term use and is not advised for pregnant women.


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