FDA Approved Weight Loss Rx Pills That Actually Work

Tatiana Ayazo /Rd.com

Lorcaserin (Belviq)

As with all these drugs, it is FDA-approved for obese people — they have a body mass index (BMI) over 30 (for example, someone who is 5’6″ should weigh over 185 pounds); or for people with a BMI over 27 (such as a person 5’6″ who weighs 167 or more) with an obesity-related condition such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.Most of these medications should only be be taken in the short term and in combination with advice from a healthcare provider.See how to calculate your BMI.

Lorcaserin (Belviq) is a drug that stimulates the area of ​​the brain that controls appetite and satiety, explains Scott Kahan, MD, the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, DC. Belviq targets the brain receptors for serotonin, a brain chemical that plays a role in satiety. (Serotonin also plays a role in mood regulation.)

What can you expect? Studies of nearly 8,000 obese and overweight people using Belviq show that 37.5 to 47.5 percent of patients lost more than 5 percent of their body weight in a one to two year period. Patients also made dietary and exercise adjustments. His rule of thumb is that if you don’t lose 5 percent of your weight after 12 weeks of treatment, you probably won’t respond. “We see good weight loss in about 50 percent of patients and it’s very safe,” he says. Both cholesterol and blood sugar levels also appear to decrease in Belviq users. Side effects can include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, constipation, and low blood sugar for people taking medications to treat diabetes, but the chances of this happening are very slim, he says. It is one of the best weight loss pills when it comes to safety. “One of the feathers in Belviq’s hat is that it’s very well tolerated,” he says. That said, people with a history of heart disease, psychiatric disorders, and those who are pregnant should not take this drug. The FDA advisory panel initially rejected this weight-loss pill because of the risk of tumors in animal studies, and the European Medicines Agency was so concerned about the drug’s safety that it rejected Belviq. However, an analysis in JAMA indicates that Belviq is associated with fewer side effects than other Rx weight loss pills. Try these 50 ways to lose weight without a lick of exercise.

Illustration of injectable liraglutide.Tatiana Ayazo /Rd.com

Liraglutide (Saxenda)

Saxenda, approved in 2014, is different from the Rx weight loss pill pack because it is the only one that is given as an injection. It is a higher dose of an older diabetes drug called Victoza. Saxenda mimics the effects of GLP-1, 1 (glucagon-like peptide), a hormone made in the gut that suppresses appetite.

What can you expect? Study participants who ate a low-calorie diet, increased their exercise regimen and took Saxenda lost an average of 18 and a half pounds over 56 weeks, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In contrast, those who made these lifestyle changes but were given a placebo instead of Saxenda lost only six pounds. “I’ve seen great results with Saxenda, especially in patients at risk for diabetes and those with a family history of diabetes,” said Reshmi Srinath, MD, assistant professor of diabetes, endocrinology and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. To know if you’re at risk, check to see if you have these habits that increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Side effects of Saxenda can include nausea, which can be severe, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and/or low blood sugar, Dr. kahan.

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