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Comparing the effectiveness of weight loss drugs

A recent analysis has compared the effectiveness of the 5 weight-loss drugs that have been approved by the USA’s FDA. These drugs are: orlistat, lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, phentermine-topiramate, and liraglutide. The drugs were compared against a placebo, and not against each other. The authors of this study conducted a systematic review with a meta-analysis that included 28 randomised clinical trials, which related to 29,018 patients. They also looked at the incidence of adverse events whilst patients were on these drugs.

Each drug was associated with achieving at least 5% weight-loss at 52 weeks, with phentermine-topiramate and liraglutide having the highest odds of achieving 5% weight loss. The authors highlighted that more work is necessary to discover the long-term effects of pharmacotherapy for obesity, as concerns over their safety still exist amongst clinicians. The authors go on to explain how there are no recommendations for clinicians when it comes to choosing individual drugs for patients and with differences in safety, efficacy and response to therapy, the ideal approach to weight-loss should be highly individualised, identifying appropriate candidates for pharmacotherapy, behavioural interventions and surgery.

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