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, 78 (11), 1113-1132

Centrally Acting Agents for Obesity: Past, Present, and Future


Centrally Acting Agents for Obesity: Past, Present, and Future

Ann A Coulter et al. Drugs.


For many years, obesity was believed to be a condition of overeating that could be resolved through counseling and short-term drug treatment. Obesity was not recognized as a chronic disease until 1985 by the scientific community, and 2013 by the medical community. Pharmacotherapy for obesity has advanced remarkably since the first class of drugs, amphetamines, were approved for short-term use. Most amphetamines were removed from the obesity market due to adverse events and potential for addiction, and it became apparent that obesity pharmacotherapies were needed that could safely be administered over the long term. This review of central nervous system (CNS) acting anti-obesity drugs evaluates current therapies such as phentermine/topiramate, which act through multiple neurotransmitter pathways to reduce appetite. In the synergistic mechanism of bupropion/naltrexone, naltrexone blocks the feed-back inhibitory circuit of bupropion to give greater weight loss. Lorcaserin, a selective agonist of a serotonin receptor that regulates food intake, and the glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist liraglutide are reviewed. Future drugs include tesofensine, a potent triple reuptake inhibitor in Phase III trials for obesity, and semaglutide, an oral GLP-1 analog approved for diabetes and currently in trials for obesity. Another potential new pharmacotherapy, setmelanotide, is a melanocortin-4 receptor agonist, which is still in an early stage of development. As our understanding of the communication between the CNS, gut, adipose tissue, and other organs evolves, it is anticipated that obesity drug development will move toward new centrally acting combinations and then to drugs acting on peripheral target tissues.


Figure 1:
Figure 1:. Mean change from baseline in bodyweight
Data are values for patients completing each scheduled visit, and last observation carried forward (values for the full intention-to-treat population with the last observations carried forward). Error bars show SE. Vertical lines indicate start and end of treatment. Reproduced with permission from Elsevier Ltd. The Lancet, 2008;372:1906–1913

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