Four NEW prescription weight loss drugs have now been approved by the FDA.

The drugs listed below help some people lose weight. No one weight loss drug is for everyone and they are all quite different. Some of them have side effects, such as depression, that make them not worth the risk. They are sometimes prescribed as part of a medically supervised weight loss program.

Saxenda is the fourth drug for weight loss OK’d by the FDA since 2012. It is already available in a lower dose as Victoza for type 2 diabetes. Researchers began to study it as an obesity treatment after people on Victoza reported weight loss. Saxenda, like Victoza, is injected daily. It’s approved for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30, considered obese, or a BMI of 27 with weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure. It’s meant to be used with exercise and a reduced-calorie diet. It costs $750 per month.

Contrave is approved those who are obese and also for those who are overweight with risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Contrave combines two drugs already on the market: bupropion (Wellbutrin), an antidepressant, and naltrexone, an anti-addiction drug. Because it contains bupropion, Contrave has a boxed warning to alert doctors and patients to the increased risk of suicidal thoughts that are linked with antidepressants. Contrave costs between $180 to $210 per month.

Qsymia is now available, but by mail order only. Qsymia, which is taken once a day, uses a one-two punch to spur weight loss. It combines low doses of topiramate, used to treat seizures and migraines, and phentermine, a currently available mild stimulant approved by the FDA for weight loss. Phentermine suppresses appetite soon after the pill is taken, and topiramate (which kicks in later in the day) creates a sense of feeling full. In the FDA-reviewed clinical trials, Qsymia has been proven to help patients lose between 10% and 15% of their body weight over a year’s period as well as improve various cardiovascular aspects. Further studies have shown that this mixture has also had good results when studied as a sleep apnea treatment. It costs between $135 and $184 per month.

Belviq works by targeting specific serotonin receptors in the brain linked with feelings of satiety, leading patients to feel full. The FDA has approved Beviq for adults who are obese or who are overweight and have at least one serious medical condition, such as diabetes or high cholesterol. The approved labeling for Belviq also recommends that people discontinue the drug if they fail to lose 5% of their body weight after 12 weeks as longer treatment is unlikely to lead to meaningful weight loss. Belviq is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means it has a low potential for abuse. Belviq costs between $200 and $225 a month.

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