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    Can the new weight loss drugs really help you lose weight?

    Deaconess Clinic Internal Medicine 02/06/2015

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of American adults are obese.  Since the obesity epidemic began in the mid-1990’s, Americans have tried an endless amount of techniques to drop extra pounds.  From group meetings to home delivered meals to medically supervised weight loss, the battle of the bulge has yet to be conquered.  The onslaught of programs, clinics and plans has left us confused, bewildered and more importantly, still obese.

    As research into obesity continues, the evidence is becoming clear that medical intervention is the most promising avenue.  The Food and Drug Administration is continually reviewing obesity-focused medications in hopes of improving the nation’s health and our literal bottom lines.

    Here are five promising options:

    1. Belviq
    How does it work?
    Belviq is an appetite suppressant that regulates brain chemicals affecting hunger or feelings of hunger. Clinical trials showed that nearly half of people in BELVIQ clinical trials lost 5% or more of their body weight after 1 year of treatment as compared with those simply dieting and exercising. 

    Is it available now? 
    Yes, the FDA approved Belviq in June 2012 and  is available to patients with a prescription from their doctor.  Additional long term research is currently underway in obese and overweight people who have been diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease.

    2. Contrave
    How does it work?
    Contrave is an innovative combination of pharmaceuticals designed to treat addiction and depression.  Contrave is designed to regulate thought patterns associated with overeating and mindless food consumption. In clinical trials, Contrave was found effective when combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise.

    Is it available now?
    Yes, it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in September 2014.

    3. Qsymia
    How does it work?
    Qsymia is a combination medication to decrease hunger and increase feelings of fullness. Patients who participated in clinical trials achieved and maintained significant weight loss for at least one year.

    Is it available now?
    Yes, Qsymia is available with a prescription.

    4. The Maestro® System
    How does it work?
    The Maestro® System is an implantable device that utilizes VBLOC therapy to block nerve signals in the stomach thereby reducing hunger pangs and food consumption.  Bariatric surgeons laparoscopically insert this device and once implanted, it can be programmed to best suit the patient.

    Is it available now? 
    The Food and Drug Administration recently approved The Maestro® System.  While not yet widely available, clinical trials are ongoing.

    5. Saxenda
    How does it work?
    Saxenda is a derivative of diabetes medication that models a naturally occurring hormone in the body.  Mimicking this hormone, Saxenda reduces hunger and increases feelings of fullness after meals.  Clinical trials showed patients lost 4.5% from their beginning weight in one year.

    Is it available now?
    Although recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Saxenda is not yet widely available.  However, interested patients should contact their doctors regarding clinical trial participation.

    Though the FDA has approved these promising new drugs, ongoing trials are conducted after such approvals to help provide doctors with critical medical information about how to use new treatments in special patient populations.  Those populations include heart disease, diabetes, severe obesity, or obese pediatric patients. Talk to your physician or research online to find out about these new treatments or clinical trials in your area.

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