Weight Loss Drugs
Orlistat (Xenical®) is another prescription weight loss drug, although it works differently from appetite suppressants. This medication works by reducing the body's ability to absorb dietary fat by about one-third. It does this by blocking the enzyme lipase, which is responsible for breaking down dietary fat. When fat is not broken down, the body cannot absorb it, so fewer calories are taken in.
Recently, another medication that contains orlistat was approved by the FDA. This drug, Alli™, is the first non-prescription weight loss drug approved by the FDA.
Some side effects of orlistat include:
- Intestinal discomfort
- Leakage of oily stool.
These side effects are generally mild and temporary, but can become worse when eating foods that are high in fat.
Off-Label Weight Loss DrugsThere are a number of other medications that healthcare providers may recommend in an "off-label" fashion for weight loss. Drugs such as these include:
Antidepressants are used to treat depression. Some antidepressant medications have been studied as appetite-suppressant medications, although none are currently approved for this use.
Studies of these medications generally have found that people lose modest amounts of weight for up to six months and tend to regain weight while they are still on the drug. One exception is bupropion (Wellbutrin®). In one study, people taking bupropion maintained weight loss for up to one year.
Some examples of antidepressants that may be used off-label for weight loss include:
- Celexa® (citalopram) (see Celexa and Weight Loss)
- Cymbalta® (duloxetine) (see Cymbalta and Weight Loss)
- Effexor® (venlafaxine) or Effexor XR® (venlafaxine XR) (see Effexor and Weight Loss)
- Sarafem® (fluoxetine) (see Sarafem and Weight Loss)
- Desyrel® (trazodone) (see Trazodone and Weight Loss)
- Paxil® (paroxetine) (see Paxil and Weight Loss).
Two medications used to treat seizures, topiramate (Topamax®) (see Topamax and Weight Loss) and zonisamide (Zonegran®) (see Zonegran and Weight Loss), have been shown to cause weight loss. In fact, a combination drug (Qsymia) that contains topiramate along with phentermine is approved for weight loss.