Weight Loss Medicines – Safe and Effective Options

Many people are looking into using medicine to help with weight loss. Before 2012, the options were limited. People mostly used drugs like phentermine and orlistat. Today, there’s more talk about newer drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic.

Choosing the right medicine for weight loss is not easy. It depends on your body, health issues, and past experience. Luckily, we now have several good options. These include Wegovy, Ozempic, and others like Zepbound and Saxenda. These drugs can help you lose weight and get healthier.

There’s also hope for new medicines in the future. Companies are working on drugs like orforglipron. Plus, there are unique treatments and medications getting a closer look. These include things like retatrutide and bimagrumab. They might help you build muscle and burn fat.

Meds for weight loss can cause side effects. You might feel sick or have tummy troubles. Headaches and fatigue are also common. But, the good these drugs do usually beats the bad. They can help you drop weight and get healthier.

The costs of these medicines can vary a lot. For example, Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy costs $1,349 for four weeks. Ozempic is closer to $936. Saxenda comes in at $1,350 for a month, with Victoza priced between $543 and $815.

Drugs like Saxenda and Victoza work well for weight loss. They also help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check. However, they can cause some serious issues. This includes pancreas or bladder problems. But, in general, they are safe for most adults.

In short, weight loss drugs are a good choice for those who need them. Talk to your doctor to see which one might work for you. It’s also important to watch out for any side effects. As we learn more, even better drugs will become available.

Criteria for Weight Loss Medication Prescriptions

Weight loss medication prescriptions look at several things to make sure they work safely and well. The person’s body mass index (BMI) is a key point. Usually, medicines to help lose weight are given to those with a BMI over 30. But, for people with a BMI over 27 who have health issues from their weight, it might be right too.

Doctors also think about other things. They consider the patient’s current health, the medicines they are already using, their family’s health history, and how much the drugs might cost. They also check for any possible bad side effects. These steps are important in choosing the best medicine for each person.

When talking to your doctor about weight loss meds, be honest about your health and the pills you take. Sharing this info helps the doctor pick the right treatment for you.

Remember, some weight loss medicines are only for certain ages. For instance, semaglutide, liraglutide, and orlistat can be used by kids 12 and older. But, it’s vital to talk to a doctor first and make sure they monitor you well. Weight loss drugs are usually not for pregnant women.

Overall, finding the best weight loss drug looks at a lot of things. By looking at BMI, other health stuff, and what the drug can do, doctors can give the best aid. This process is key in getting a person to a healthier weight.

Wegovy (semaglutide)

Wegovy is a medicine known by the brand name semaglutide. It works by affecting certain receptors in the body. The FDA approved Wegovy in 2021 for treating obesity and overweight conditions in adults and children over 12. Given that about 70% of American adults face obesity or are overweight, Wegovy serves as a vital tool in battling this issue.

Losing 5% to 10% of body weight can lower the risk of heart disease. Several studies have endorsed the benefits of Wegovy in weight management. More than 2,600 patients tried Wegovy for 68 weeks in controlled conditions. These studies confirmed Wegovy’s safety and its remarkable effect on patients’ weight.

In a particular study with adults not having diabetes, those who took Wegovy lost a significant amount of weight. They lost an average of 12.4% compared to others taking placebo. A similar outcome was found in another study with adults with type 2 diabetes, where they lost 6.2% of initial weight.

Wegovy® comes as an injection in the strength of 2.4 mg. It should be taken with a diet low in calories and more physical activity. For adults with heart disease and obesity, it can reduce the chances of severe heart events. It also aids in losing weight for adults and children over 12 with obesity or certain weight-related health issues.

Wegovy, like any treatment, has side effects such as stomach problems, headaches, and tiredness. Talking to a healthcare provider is important before starting Wegovy. This is to make sure it’s the right choice for you and to watch out for any side effects. One crucial note is that since Wegovy includes semaglutide, it shouldn’t be used with similar medicines.

Wegovy is indeed a breakthrough for lasting weight management in adults and certain children over 12. Its use in younger children hasn’t been fully studied, making it not suitable for them without a doctor’s supervision.

In summary, Wegovy is changing the game in weight loss medicines. FDA’s approval in 2021 marks a new era in fighting obesity and overweight issues. Its approach targets the challenges of obesity, helping people lose weight and lower their cardiovascular disease risks.

Ozempic (semaglutide)

Ozempic contains a substance called semaglutide, a type of GLP-1 receptor agonist. It received FDA approval in 2017 for treating type 2 diabetes in adults. Unlike Wegovy, a medicine for weight loss, Ozempic has lower doses.

One benefit of using Ozempic for type 2 diabetes is weight loss. Studies show that people using Ozempic often shed some body weight.

If you quit taking Ozempic, you might gain back the weight. So, it’s key to keep using it based on your doctor’s advice.

Doctors warn against using Ozempic just for losing weight without having type 2 diabetes. Its main role is diabetes management. Weight loss use should be under a doctor’s care.

Recently, a shortage of Ozempic and Wegovy has made them hard to get. This has been tough for people needing these medicines for their health.

The FDA cautions against using “generic” versions of Ozempic and Wegovy. Stick to the brand names for your safety and the treatment’s effectiveness.

Health insurance often covers Ozempic, making it more available for diabetes treatment. However, insurance might not pay for Wegovy, which could affect its cost for weight loss.

Both Ozempic and Wegovy can help with losing weight, managing about a 12% drop in body weight. They are meant for long-term use to keep weight off and manage health issues.

Thinking about using these medicines for weight loss? Talk to your doctor first. They can help decide the best one for you, considering your health and needs.

Tirzepatide (Zepbound)

Tirzepatide is now known as Zepbound for treating obesity in adults. It is for those with a BMI of 30 or more. It is an injection belonging to the GLP-1 and GIP receptor agonists class.

In studies, Zepbound led to significant weight loss. For example, the highest approved dose saw patients lose 18% of their weight. This highlights how effective it can be.

For people with type 2 diabetes, Zepbound also offered benefits. Those on the highest dose lost about 12% more weight than those not on Zepbound.

However, Zepbound might cause side effects like nausea and diarrhea. It’s important to avoid it if you’re allergic to tirzepatide or its ingredients.

Zepbound’s approval was thanks to the FDA and Eli Lilly and Co. handled it. They are a well-known pharmaceutical company.

Weight Loss Studies

In a study that lasted 72 weeks and included adults without diabetes, big weight losses were seen. For instance, those on the 15 mg dose lost 20.9% of their weight. This was 48 pounds on average.

A similar study was done with adults who had diabetes. The 15 mg dose again showed good results. People in this group lost 14.7% of their weight. This was 33 pounds on average.

In these studies, adults started with an average weight of 231 lbs without diabetes. Those with diabetes started at 222 lbs. This shows the major weight loss potential.

Those who combined a diet with more exercise and Tirzepatide kept losing weight. This was true regardless of what dose they were on (5 mg, 10 mg, or 15 mg).

Personal Experience

In a 72-week study, Janeth shared how Tirzepatide helped her. She lost a lot of weight and kept it off, going from a size 18 to a size 8. After losing weight, she felt more active.

She started enjoying the pool, park, and movies. She also became more involved in family events and parties.

Liraglutide (Saxenda)

Liraglutide is sold under the name Saxenda. It is a drug that you inject daily. It’s part of a group called GLP-1 receptor agonists. This drug helps adults who are overweight (BMI ≥27) or obese (BMI ≥30). It may also help kids aged 12-17 who weigh more than 132 pounds (60 kg) lose weight.

Saxenda, when used with a healthy diet and exercise, helps people lose weight. It makes you feel full quicker and cuts down on your cravings. This way, you can eat less and still feel satisfied.

Saxenda can have some side effects. For grown-ups, these might be nausea, diarrhea, or stomach pain. Kids might get a fever or stomach flu. If these effects are severe or don’t go away, it’s crucial to talk to a doctor.

Not everyone can use Saxenda. It’s not for those with certain health issues or allergies to liraglutide. Also, pregnant women or people with a history of certain cancers should avoid it.

Some side effects of Saxenda need quick medical care. These include swelling, heart issues, or abnormal liver tests. Rarely, it might contribute to thyroid cancer. Watching for these signs is vital.

Storing Saxenda safely is also important. Keep unopened pens in the fridge. Once opened, they can be kept at room temperature or in the fridge. Even so, they shouldn’t stay open for over 30 days.

Never share your Saxenda pens. Doing so could spread infections. The shots should go in your belly, thigh, or upper arm. Change the spot each time to avoid skin problems.

Before using Saxenda, talk to your doctor. Tell them about any other medications you’re on. This includes insulin or drugs for diabetes. It’s always best to check with a health professional first.


Phentermine is a weight-loss medicine often prescribed for those battling obesity or are overweight. It’s given when diet and exercise haven’t led to much weight loss. This drug, placed in Schedule 4, can be used for up to 12 weeks. In some cases, doctors extend this timeframe.

For phentermine to work well, a reduced-calorie diet and exercise are important. Usually, you take this medicine in the morning, with or without a meal. But, taking it at night may disrupt sleep, so avoid this.

Phentermine mainly lowers your appetite and helps you control food cravings. It speeds up your heart rate and might cause issues like trouble sleeping, feeling nervous, or constipation. Talking to your doctor first is key to starting phentermine safely.

Having certain health conditions means you should be careful with phentermine. This includes heart issues, high blood pressure, or an overactive thyroid. Also, if you have glaucoma or a history of drug abuse. It’s off-limits for pregnant women, those planning a pregnancy, and breastfeeding moms because of possible risks.

Regular doctor visits are a must while on phentermine. It helps your healthcare team monitor your progress and manage any side effects. If you notice anything unusual, don’t wait to tell your doctor.

When used correctly, phentermine can help a lot in achieving weight loss. But, it’s part of a bigger plan that includes healthy eating and being active. Don’t forget about making changes in your daily habits, too.


Topiramate is a medicine often used with phentermine to help people lose weight. It’s used by adults and youth over 12 years who are obese or by adults with certain weight-linked health issues. This drug is from the anticonvulsant class, mainly for treating epilepsy. It’s known to cut down on appetite and make you feel full longer after meals, boosting weight loss efforts.

Topiramate is usually taken once daily in the morning. Your doctor will begin with a low dose, then adjust it after about two weeks. Both topiramate and phentermine can be habit-forming, so always stick to your doctor’s advice on dose.

It helps keep your weight under control as long as you keep taking it. But, you can only get it through a special program due to a risk of birth defects. Before taking phentermine and topiramate, you should know about some safety measures.

  • Taking phentermine and topiramate might slow down your thinking and movements and mess with your vision.
  • Avoid alcohol completely while on these medications.
  • Phentermine and topiramate could stop sweating and make it difficult for the body to cool off in hot weather.
  • Your mental health may be affected and lead to thoughts of self-harm when taking these drugs.
  • These drugs could also slow down how fast children grow if used for a long time.

Scientific studies prove that topiramate can help with weight loss. For example, in a six-month study on obese men, topiramate showed benefits by influencing energy balance. It also improved certain hormone actions to help fight obesity in mice. Moreover, in rats fed a high-fat diet, topiramate made insulin work better in muscle. This showed that topiramate can improve how the body deals with sugar.

When it comes to treating obesity, topiramate has its place. It was found helpful in a study with obese people and high blood pressure, showing it can benefit a wider group of individuals.


Naltrexone-bupropion is sold under the name Contrave. It’s a mix of an opioid blocker and an antidepressant. Doctors use it to help obese adults with body mass index (BMI) over 30 or overweight adults with a BMI over 27. This is when they have other health problems too.

Naltrexone stops you from wanting to eat by blocking opioid receptors. Bupropion, on the other hand, makes you feel full. It does this by acting on other parts of your brain.

In tests, people lost more weight with naltrexone-bupropion than with fake pills. Over 4,000 patients in these tests saw these benefits. About four patients would have to use this medication to see significant weight loss.

Not everyone should take this drug. People with kidney or liver issues need to cut back on their dosage. And it’s not clear what might happen if you take it for longer than a year.

Like all medications, naltrexone-bupropion can have side effects. The most common are feeling sick or constipated. Some people also get headaches or have a dry mouth. If the side effects are too much, about one in five patients stopped using the drug.

Interactions and Precautions

It’s very important to tell your doctor about all the drugs you’re taking. This is because naltrexone-bupropion might not mix well with other medications.

Keep your meds at room temperature. If you notice side effects, call the FDA. If you miss a dose, don’t double up. Just take the next one when you’re supposed to. And overdose on this drug requires immediate medical attention.

If you’re thinking of giving this to a child, talk to a doctor first. The same goes for pregnant women. This drug might not be safe for the baby.

Drinking alcohol while on this drug can be risky. You might have more seizures. Always visit your doctor to make sure things are going well with your treatment.


Setmelanotide is a special medicine used to manage weight. It is for people who have rare genetic issues. They must be at least 6 years old to use it. It helps both adults and kids.

This medicine works by telling your brain to lose weight. It makes you want to eat less. This can help people lose weight, especially those with genetic conditions.

Setmelanotide can make your skin darker or cause a rash. You might also have headaches or feel sick to your stomach. These are common issues.

But, if Setmelanotide doesn’t help you lose weight quickly, it might not be the right fit. Some rare side effects could happen. Like, guys might have erections that aren’t normal. Or women might feel more sexually active. Other serious signs could also appear.

Keep your Setmelanotide safe and away from kids. If it’s not open, store it in the fridge. But, once you start using a vial, it could last up to 30 days at a cold temperature or room temperature.

An medicine called Imcivree has Setmelanotide in it. Imcivree is for people with severe obesity caused by certain rare genetic conditions. These are conditions like POMC, PCSK1, or LEPR deficiency.

Very few people with these rare conditions have been reported in studies. Yet, research shows that many with POMC or PCSK1 loss of 10% body weight in a year treated with Imcivree.

Also, about 46% of those with LEPR deficiency had the same success with Imcivree. These numbers prove how effective Imcivree can be.

People reported feeling less hungry every week on Imcivree. This is another way it helps lower body weight.

While Imcivree helps, it can also cause some side effects. These include problems where it’s injected, darker skin, headaches, and stomach troubles. Men could also get hard more often, and women might not feel like having sex. Feelings of sadness and wanting to harm oneself are other rare effects.

The FDA thinks Imcivree is super important for treating obesity in those with rare genetic disorders. They’ve given it ‘orphand drug,’ ‘Breakthrough Therapy,’ and ‘Priority Review’ status to highlight its value.


Weight loss medicines help a lot when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. Medications like Wegovy, Ozempic, Tirzepatide, and others can be very useful. People need to talk to their healthcare providers to find the right one for them.

Trials show these medicines really work. They help people lose weight and feel less hungry. Some can also make blood sugar, blood pressure, and fatty liver better in those who are obese.

But, not many people in the U.S. use these medicines. Some reasons are safety worries, high costs, and not enough doctors knowing about them. Breaking down these barriers could help millions of American adults with obesity.

So, weight loss medicines are a good option for those with obesity. By talking to doctors, people can find the best medicine for them. This approach, along with healthy living, can help manage weight safely.


What are weight loss medicines?

Weight loss medicines help fight obesity. They work best with a good diet and exercise. These meds can make it easier to eat less, stop craving food, and feel full faster.

How do weight loss medicines work?

These medicines work in different ways to help shed pounds. Some make you want to eat less, others speed up how your body burns calories. They might also block fat from being absorbed, or change chemicals in your brain that control hunger.

Are weight loss medicines safe?

If a weight loss medicine is FDA-approved, it’s been thoroughly checked for safety and how well it works. Yet, they can still have side effects. It’s crucial to talk with your doctor to find what’s safe for you.

Who should consider weight loss medicines?

Looking into weight loss drugs might be good if your BMI is 30 or more, or it’s 27 or more but you have health issues related to weight. Think about your health, what meds you take, your family’s health history, and the cost and risks of these drugs.

Do weight loss medicines require a prescription?

Yes, you need a healthcare provider’s okay for most weight loss drugs. They want to make sure it’s right for you and that they can watch for any unwanted side effects or problems

What are the common side effects of weight loss medicines?

The side effects of these drugs can change, but some things like feeling sick, having stomach issues, or a headache are common. You might also find you don’t want to eat, feel weak, can’t sleep well, or have changes in your blood pressure or heart rate.

Can weight loss medicines be used long-term?

How long you take these drugs can differ. Some are for a short while, and others you can use longer. It’s always best to do what your doctor recommends when using these meds.

Can weight loss medicines be used alongside other medications?

It’s possible to take these drugs with other meds, but you must tell your healthcare provider about everything you take. Some drug combinations might not be safe or could make the weight loss meds less effective.

How much weight can be lost with weight loss medicines?

The weight you might lose on these drugs varies. It’s usually between 5 to 10% of your body weight. But a lot depends on how much you stick to a healthy diet and exercise, and the specific drug you’re on.

Can weight loss medicines be used in children?

Some of these drugs are okay for children 12 and up who are dealing with obesity or too much weight. But using these drugs in kids requires careful watch by a doctor, along with making lifestyle changes.

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