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Weight loss drugs

FDA examines weight loss combination therapy

New drug combines antidepressant and addiction medications

The FDA is reviewing a new prescription weight-loss medication that combines a popular antidepressant with a medication for addiction. The new prescription medication is a combination of two FDA-approved drugs, bupropion (an antidepressant), and naltrexone (which reduces the desire for drugs and alcohol). Both have been found to increase weight loss in independent research trials and combining the two in one capsule is believed to create a synergistic effect.

"Many medications for various conditions have been found to have weight loss as a side effect, and conversely, many medications can cause weight gain," Dr Bipan Chand, director of the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care. “Weight-loss medications commonly involve an appetite suppressant and a metabolism booster. But not all patients can tolerate prescription weight-loss medication.”

Bipan Chand

In clinical trials, patients taking the new medication while following a diet and exercise program lost more weight than those taking a placebo and following the same diet and exercise regimen. In a 56-week period, the non-medicated group lost 11-16lbs while the medicated patients lost 20- 2lbs.

In February 2011, the FDA requested a large-scale study of the long-term cardiovascular effects of the drug before considering approval.

More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese and one in three American children and teens are considered obese. Americans spend an estimated US$20 billion annually on weight-loss products, including medications.

"Behavioural therapy, nutrition counselling, physical exercise and surgery as well as medication are all instruments in the weight-loss toolbox," added Chang. "Bariatric surgery has been the most effective tool in achieving long-term weight loss, which leads to overall improvement in health, reducing or eliminating chronic conditions and medications and increasing years of life.”

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