The obesity epidemic: current and future pharmacological treatments

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2007;47:565-92. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.47.120505.105256.


The unabated rise in the prevalence of obesity is a challenge for global health care systems. Efforts to reverse this trend by dietary or behavioral counseling have not been successful, which has stimulated efforts to find a role for pharmacotherapy. Currently only a small number of antiobesity drugs are approved for long-term use and only a few compounds are in clinical development. Despite recent progress in the understanding of the regulation of energy balance, drug discovery has been less productive than expected. In the present review, the clinically available antiobesity agents are discussed. Examples of drug candidates that are currently in development are given and the possible future range of antiobesity agents is illustrated by the targets being addressed in drug discovery. Finally, the efficacy of antiobesity agents and their value in the treatment of obesity are assessed in comparison with other therapeutic approaches, such as surgery and changes in lifestyle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cyclobutanes / therapeutic use
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Drug Design*
  • Drugs, Investigational / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lactones / therapeutic use
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Orlistat
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use
  • Pyrazoles / therapeutic use
  • Rimonabant


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Cyclobutanes
  • Drugs, Investigational
  • Lactones
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • Orlistat
  • Rimonabant
  • sibutramine