All weight loss drugs available on the market today can generally be classified into two broad groups based on either being a prescription or non-prescription weight loss drug. Prescription drugs, also referred to as ethical drugs, are drugs that cannot be purchased without the written approval of a physician.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the government agency responsible for protecting the general public from unsafe drugs. Therefore, drugs that require a prescription must produce research results that confirm that they actually safe and effective before the FDA can give approval for their sale to the public.
To use a prescription weight loss medication, the intending user must pay a trip to a physician, at least when the medication will be first prescribed. The physician will normally have to evaluate the patient to ascertain that the use of the drug in question will not pose any health risk to the patient or interact with any other medication the patient might currently be taking.
Qualifications for Prescription Weight Loss Drug Approval
Before thinking of going for a prescription based weight loss product, you need to understand that there are certain conditions that have to be satisfied before the approval of a prescription. Prescription weight loss drugs unlike supplements are certified medications that are specifically manufactured to treat people with chronic and unhealthy body fat.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), being overweight was found to be associated with a modest increase in risk of coronary heart disease, respiratory illnesses, stroke, hypertension, Type II diabetes, amongst other diseases. Obesity was considered to be linked to a steep increase in the risk of these overweight-related conditions.
The NHLBI subsequently developed regulatory guidelines for physicians to follow in order to adequately classify, measure, and treat conditions of overweight and obesity in people. As a requirement, physicians therefore need to carry out the following observations to determine whether a patient qualifies to use a prescription based weight loss drug or not. The procedures include:
Determination of BMI. The patient must be considered as either being overweight (with a BMI of 27 or above and having an obesity-related condition) or obese (with a BMI of 30 or above and having an obesity-related condition). Some of the obesity-related conditions may include high blood cholesterol levels, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.
Waistline Measurement. The waistline measurement must be taken considering the fact that several researchers have associated fat around the waist to higher increases in mortality compared to fat stored in other parts of the body including the thighs and buttocks.
Presence of other risk factors posed by excess weight. These may include a family history of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, and other conditions.
The NHLBI requires that physicians evaluate all three measures before recommending such prescription based weight loss product for treatment to patients. These conditions can however be regarded as high for a lot of individuals who want to lose weight and feel that they would be safer making use of such weight loss products.
Types of Prescription Weight Loss Drugs
There are basically three main types of prescription based weight loss drugs categorized based on their particular mechanisms in aiding weight loss.
This category accounts for well over 90% of all of prescription weight loss drugs so far approved by the FDA. Appetite suppressants aid weight loss by working on the appetite center of the brain â€“ the hypothalamus.
Currently, most of the FDA approved appetite suppressants are made from chemicals belonging to a group of drugs known as phenethylamines, which are somewhat similar to amphetamines. Amphetamines are generally considered to have stimulant effect on the central nervous system thereby speeding up mental and physical functions.
When eating, these appetite suppressants affect a number of neurotransmitter systems in the brain including some catecholamines and serotonin thereby causing an increase in their overall levels. When they get to certain levels, the brain signals the body that it has had enough food ingested and therefore to stop eating.
Appetite suppressants make you eat less and also reduce your cravings for snacks in-between meals thereby helping to reduce your overall calorie intake. Some of the FDA approved appetite suppressant include diethylpropion (Tenuate, and Tenuate dospan); phendimetrazine (Bontril, Plegine, Prelu-2, X-Trozine, and Adipost); phentermine (Adipex-P, Fastin, Ionamin, Oby-trim, Pro-Fast, and Zantryl); and sibutramine (Meridia).
In 1999 the FDA approved a new class of weight loss drug called lipase inhibitors that functioned differently from the erstwhile mostly commonly approved appetite suppressants. Orlistat was the first of this new class of anti-obesity drugs intended for long term use.
Lipase inhibitors aid weight loss by inhibiting the pancreatic enzyme lipase, the enzyme which helps the body break down dietary fat. This reduces the body’s overall ability to absorb ingested fat by as much as 30%. Lipase inhibitors therefore help you lose weight by inhibiting the absorption of dietary fat thereby significantly reducing your calorie intake.
Most of the ingested fat is passed through the body without being absorbed but however presents some undesirable side effects. Orlistat, the only FDA approved drug in this category is currently marketed under the brand name Xenical.
Off-label refers to drugs being used for purposes that they are not officially approved for by the FDA and therefore which are not listed on the drug’s label. Nonetheless, it is legal for physicians to use their own judgment when prescribing drugs for use that are not specifically listed on the labels of drugs.
For instance, physicians sometimes prescribe fluoxetine (Prozac), bupropion (Wellbutrin XL), and sertraline (Zoloft) â€“ all antidepressants, to treat overweight and obese people and have recorded increased weight loss by as much as 10% in some cases. Another example is Adderall, which has the side effect of suppressing appetite, resulting in weight loss but is actually used to treat patients with ADHD.
Benefits of Prescription Weight Loss Drugs
Most of the results of prescription drugs meant for weight loss have been based on short term effects of the drugs. Notwithstanding the fact that physicians often prescribe these drugs for longer periods of time, they are however, as a general rule meant to be prescribed for short term use of about a few weeks.
Of the available prescription weight loss drugs, only orlistat (Xenical) and sibutramine (Meridia) have been approved for long-term use in patients who are significantly overweight. However, the safety and effectiveness of these drugs cannot be guaranteed for use beyond two years.
Several studies have shown that prescription weight loss drugs do have significant weight loss effects with some patients experiencing weight loss of about 5 to 12 pounds over a six-month period. The average maximum weight loss is often experienced by the sixth month of using these medications.
Generally, when physician prescribed weight loss drugs are combined with a healthy diet and frequent exercise, some users can expect to lose about 10% more of their body weight than they otherwise would.
Side Effects of Prescription Weight Loss Drugs
Apart from the fact that prescription weight loss drugs can make users become addicted to them as well as the body adapting to their effects, there are other side effects associated with their use. Amongst others, some of these side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
The major advantage prescription weight loss drugs have over their non-prescription alternatives is the fact that prescription drugs are not only just approved by the FDA but it continuously monitors their safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing processes as well as the prescribing process itself.
This is however not to say that non-prescription weight loss drugs are not equally monitored by the FDA. They are only don’t go through the rigorous approval process of the FDA, but if the agency should receive any report of serious side effects, the agency would normally withdraw such non-prescription drug from the market as was the case of ephedra and its derivatives.
It is important however to still emphasize that prescription based weight loss medications do not necessarily have an advantage over their supplement alternatives in terms of overall effectiveness just because they were prescribed by a physician.
Like all weight loss medications, it is very important to combine the use of prescription weight loss drugs with proper diet and moderate physical exercise in order to optimize their effectiveness in aiding you reach your goal weight and maintaining it in the long term.
Given the prescription requirement of prescription based weight loss drugs and their associated side effects, we would recommend their use only as a last resort. It is highly recommended to rather use a natural weight loss supplement that has equally been proven to be both safe and effective with virtually no side effect to aid you in achieving your weight loss goals.
Phentemine375 – better known as Phen375 – is a new synthetic pharmaceutical-grade fat burning and appetite suppressing formulation.
It is manufactured in FDA registered pharmaceutical labs in California. Phen375 is clinically proven to boosts your metabolic rate and energy levels while also acting as an appetite suppressant thereby increasing your overall fat burning capabilities.
Phen375 is made from high quality active ingredients such as Dimethylpentalyne, Trimethylxanthine, Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and L-carnitine. These compounds go to work instantly to fast track the burning of large amounts of excess body fat.
The combination of these compounds in Phen375 virtually makes it the MOST POWERFUL legalized non-prescription weight loss product on the market.
You can also read: Weight Loss and Diet Pills – The Connection