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2014 Brings Two New Weight Loss Drugs!

by Dr. Sharon Orrange on September 16, 2014 at 10:35 am

Do we have better meds for weight loss now? September brought news of two new weight loss medications, Contrave and Saxenda. Funny thing is both of them are drugs used for other indications, now approved for weight loss. So these meds have been around, in one form or another. These two will join Belviq, Qsymia, and orlistat (available over the counter as Alli).

The newest drug available for weight loss is Contrave which is a combination of two older drugs: bupropion and naltrexone. Contrave was first rejected in 2011 but the company did more safety studies to solidify cardiac safety and now the FDA has approved it.

What’s the story with Contrave?

  • Half of it is a drug we know well: bupropion is the generic version of Wellbutrin. Bupropion is used for the treatment of anxiety and depression, and tobacco cessation.
  • The other half of Contrave is naltrexone, which has been used to treat people with alcohol or opioid dependence and has been found to suppress appetite as a “positive” side effect.
  • Contrave is indicated for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher and adults with a BMI of 27 or higher with one or more weight-related conditions, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.

What about Saxenda?

  • This is interesting. Saxenda is the injectable diabetes drug Victoza, just at a higher dose.
  • An FDA advisory panel has just voted 14 to 1 in favor of this injectable diabetes drug (liraglutide) for the treatment of obesity.
  • Victoza has been available in the US since 2010 for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and in previous blogs I’ve explained how it works. Saxenda is the brand name for the obesity treatment, which is basically Victoza at a higher dose—3.0 mg, in contrast to 1.2 or 1.8 mg for diabetes.
  • This would be a no brainer for someone with both diabetes and obesity.

It has been slim pickings with respect to medications for weight loss, so here are two more to think about.

Dr O.

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