Font Size
A
A
A

Medication in the Treatment of Obesity (cont.)

What Obesity Medications Should I Avoid?

Some medications are not recommended for weight loss because of safety concerns. Some are no longer available in the United States. Avoid them. Be sure to check any weight-loss products you acquire without a prescription, such as through mail-order pharmacies, to make sure they do not contain any of these products.

"Fen-phen"

Two drugs known as fenfluramine (Pondimin) and dexfenfluramine (Redux) affect serotonin levels in the brain.

  • These drugs, which are closely related to each other, were used in drug combinations that became very popular in the 1990s for treatment of obesity.
  • The combination was commonly referred to as fen-phen.
  • These drugs were withdrawn from the market in 1997 after they were linked to heart-valve problems and primary pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension affects the blood vessels in the lungs and is debilitating and often fatal.

Ephedrine (ephedra, ma-huang)

A ruling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Apr. 12, 2004, prohibits dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids (ephedra).

Ephedra, also called ma-huang, is a naturally occurring substance derived from plants. Its principal active ingredient is ephedrine, which, when chemically synthesized, is regulated as a drug. In recent years, ephedra products have been extensively promoted to aid weight loss, enhance sports performance, and increase energy. However, the FDA has determined that ephedra presents an unreasonable risk of illness or injury. Ephedrine has been linked to significant adverse health effects, including high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke, and death.

PPA

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is a stimulant that is closely related to ephedrine. PPA was previously an ingredient in appetite suppressants as well as over-the-counter cough and cold remedies.

  • The FDA has issued a warning regarding PPA use. As a result, manufacturers removed products containing PPA from the market in October 2000.
  • Studies have suggested that this product is associated with an increased risk of hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke in women.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCES:

Allison, D.B., et al. "Controlled-release phentermine/topiramate in severely obese adults: a randomized controlled trial (EQUIP)." Obesity. 20.2 Feb. 2012: 330-42. Epub 2011 Nov3.

Fidler, M.C., et al. "A one-year randomized trial of lorcaserin for weight loss in obese and overweight adults: the BLOSSOM trial." J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 96.10 Oct. 2011: 3067-3077. Epub 2011 Jul27.

Gadde, K.M., et al. "Effects of low-dose, controlled-release, phentermine plus topiramate combination on weight and associated comorbidities in overweight and obese adults (CONQUER): a randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial." Lancet. 377.9774 Apr. 16, 2011: 1341-1352. Epub2011 Apr8.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/22/2016
Medical Author:

Must Read Articles Related to Medication in the Treatment of Obesity

Obesity
Obesity More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight, including at least one in five children. Nearly one-third are obese. Obesity is on the rise in our society ...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Obesity Medication:

Medication in the Treatment of Obesity - Effective Medications

Which medications have helped you to lose weight?

Medication in the Treatment of Obesity - Side Effects

What side effects, if any, did you experience with your weight-loss medication?


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Obesity »

Obesity is a substantialpublic-health crisis in the United States and in the rest of the developed world.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary