Pharmacotherapy of obesity: clinical treatments and considerations

Am J Med Sci. 2013 Apr;345(4):284-288. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0b013e31828abcfd.


Obesity is a world-wide epidemic associated with significant morbidity and mortality which costs billions of dollars per year. The associated related conditions are many and include heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea and certain types of cancer. Given that it is a multifactorial problem, the treatments must also address the numerous causes associated with the development of obesity. The neurohormonal regulation of feeding and energy is a complex system often necessitating modification through more than 1 pathway to achieve weight loss. Therefore, in addition to lifestyle changes, attenuation of caloric intake and increase in caloric expenditure, pharmacotherapies, including combination medications, may prove beneficial in its treatment. Adding to the current available pharmacotherapies for obesity, the Food and Drug Administration has recently approved 2 new combination medications known as lorcaserin (Belviq) and phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia). As with these and other medications used for weight loss, clinical cautions, side effects, precise review of patients' medical history and selecting the appropriate medication are imperative. Additionally, close follow-up is necessary in patients undergoing treatment for weight loss. As weight loss progresses, patients who are currently undergoing concomitant treatment for comorbid diabetes and hypertension need to be monitored for appropriate changes in medications used to treat those conditions. Weight loss is often accompanied by improvement in blood pressure and glucose levels and therefore resting blood pressure and fasting and/or postprandial plasma glucose levels should be monitored at follow-up. Although unique to each individual, the benefits of weight loss are substantial and can improve well-being and physical health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzazepines / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Fructose / analogs & derivatives
  • Fructose / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Phentermine / therapeutic use
  • Topiramate


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Benzazepines
  • Topiramate
  • Fructose
  • lorcaserin
  • Phentermine