Obesity medications: what does the future look like?

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2015 Oct;22(5):360-6. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000192.


Purpose of review: Lifestyle modification remains the mainstay of treatment for obesity despite the lack of substantial long-term efficacy. For many who do not respond to lifestyle therapy and are not candidates for weight loss surgery, pharmacotherapy is a viable treatment option. Advances in understanding mechanisms of appetite control, nutrient sensing, and energy expenditure have not only helped shape current drug development but have also changed the way in which antiobesity medications are prescribed. Current antiobesity medications and pharmacological strategies will be reviewed.

Recent findings: Two new antiobesity drugs - naltrexone/bupropion (Contrave) and liraglutide (Saxenda) - were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2014 and join four other approved obesity medications, including phentermine/topiramate XR (Qsymia) and lorcaserin (Belviq), to form the largest number of medications available for the treatment of obesity. In addition, investigational drugs, like belnoranib, show promise in early clinical trials, brightening the outlook on drug development.

Summary: To combat the complex physiological system of energy regulation and the known variation of treatment response, combinatory therapies for obesity, including pharmacotherapy, are needed. Now six US Food and Drug Administration-approved antiobesity medications, including two combination medications, will allow providers to tailor obesity treatment in combination with lifestyle modification for a great number of individuals with obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Device Approval
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drugs, Investigational
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drugs, Investigational