Pharmacotherapy Options for Obesity

A recent article published in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy did a comparison of the available pharmacotherapy options for patients struggling with obesity. Specifically, Nuffer and colleagues looked at phase 3 clinical trial data from 4 new drug therapies that have been approved for the weight management and obesity. Because obesity is closely related to a wide variety and large number of health problems and disease states, it is important to look into potential pharmacotherapies that could be helpful and effective. The drugs studied in this trial are lorcaserin, naltrexone/bupropion SR, phentermine/topiramate ER, and liraglutide. According to the research in this article, the phase 3 clinical trial data shows that each of these four medications contribute to long-term weight loss. Additionally, each of the four drugs can also lead to GI-related adverse events, such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation. One important note about all of the medications is that they are all pregnant category X drugs.

The authors conclude by explaining that the introduction of these 4 medications approved for the management of obesity advance a physician’s ability to effectively help their patients. These authors examined the data from each of these medications but there have not been any direct comparisons performed between them to tease out which would be the most effective. All of the medications show promise at achieving long-term weight loss. The suggestion offered by the authors is that because there is not a single drug that stands out as being better than the others, physicians need to decide on medications in a patient-specific manner. Other factors such as lifestyle, other disease states, and other medications could impact the decision of which medication to use.

Overall the article was meant to summarize the benefits and problems associated with 4 medications recently approved for weight management and obesity. As noted by the authors, the lack of a direct comparison between the medications means that there is not yet an objective means of determining which of the drugs if any would be safer or more effective. Obesity is a serious problem that is affecting people around the globe and is directly associated with many negative outcomes. As of yet, there is not a truly good means of maintaining long-term weight loss so I am looking forward to following these medications to see if we can finally provide patients with the help they need to lose weight.

Nuffer W, Trujillo JM, Megyeri J. A Comparison of New Pharmacological Agents for the Treatment of Obesity. Ann Pharmacother. 2016 Feb 17.

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