Weight Loss Drugs: What Works?

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


December 13, 2010

In This Article

Final Thoughts on Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy

Obesity is a chronic, relapsing, biologic condition that may well require long-term pharmacotherapy, in the same manner as hypertension and diabetes. To date, however, the average amount of weight lost with most pharmacologic agents has been modest at best, and the typical patient will most likely remain overweight or obese even with ongoing treatment.[12]

Weight-loss drugs are expensive; neither Medicare nor most insurance plans cover them. In addition, most are associated with adverse effects. Therefore, meeting efficacy criteria for weight loss is not good enough for anti-obesity agents that will be taken by millions of people for many years. The benefits of any weight-loss drug must outweigh the risks, and safety is the overriding consideration.

It is too early to tell whether some of the novel weight loss drugs still in development will offer greater efficacy and safety. What is certain is that drug developers will continue to search for the Holy Grail of anti-obesity drugs as the world's girth continues to expand.


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