Introduction: Amphetamines, rimonabant and sibutramine licenses as anti-obesity drugs have been withdrawn because of their adverse effects. In fact, orlistat is the only available long-term treatment for obesity.
Areas covered: The efficacy and safety of long-term drug therapy is very important in the management obesity; for this reason, the authors decided to conduct a review on the efficacy and safety of current, past and future pharmacotherapies for weight loss.
Expert opinion: Orlistat is a good choice for the treatment of obesity, because of its safety on cardiovascular events and its positive effects on diabetic control, even if it is not as effective as rimonabant or sibutramine in reducing body weight. Regarding emerging anti-obesity therapies in diabetic people, we currently have drugs that have already been marketed including the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists exenatide and liraglutide; other than improving glycemic control, they also suppress appetite reducing body weight. Moreover, some other drugs are currently in study such as tesofensine, phentermine + topiramate, bupropion + naltrexone and bupropion + zonisamide. Furthermore, several additional gut hormone-based treatments for obesity are under investigation in Phase II and III clinical trials, with particular focus on ghrelin, peptide YY, pancreatic polypeptide, amylin and oxyntomodulin.