(Last Updated on February 16, 2024)
It is not easy to lose weight. Most weight loss advice involves radically changing your diet and exercise regimen and maintaining those changes for years on end. If you don’t have the time to prepare whole-food meals at home or the energy to work out vigorously for 150 minutes per week, you might struggle to drop unhealthy fat that is putting you at risk of a number of other health concerns.
There are faster and easier treatments for weight loss that your doctor or primary care provider can offer — but only if you fit the requirements for the drugs. Here are a few guides to the patient qualifications for different weight loss pharmaceuticals to help you find the tool you need to reach your goals for size and shape.
Semaglutide is the compound in brand-name medications Ozempic and Wegovy responsible for delivering weight loss effects. Once injected into the bloodstream, the drug travels to the brain where it suppresses appetite, making a user’s adoption of a low-calorie diet much more effective. The popularity of Ozempic for weight loss has risen to such heights that there is currently a shortage of the drug around the world — which might be dangerous for those relying on semaglutide for diabetes management.
In the United States, healthcare providers can prescribe Ozempic or Wegovy for weight loss in patients with BMIs of 30 or higher as well as in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes with BMIs of 27 or higher. Having certain weight-related conditions, like kidney disease, hypertension or high cholesterol, can help with obtaining a prescription. Those interested in using Ozempic or Wegovy might turn to telehealth for more answers on this relatively new drug: https://plushcare.com/ozempic-weight-loss/
Bupropion-naltrexone is a combination drug that is commonly marketed under the brand name Contrave. Bupropion is an anti-depressant and a quit-smoking aid, while naltrexone is often used to treat alcohol and opioid addiction — but together, with diet and exercise, the drugs help individuals decrease their weight.
The requirements for Contrave are roughly the same as those imposed on Ozempic and Wegovy. Patients with a BMI of 30 or more automatically qualify for the drug, while patients with a BMI of 27 or more must have one or more comorbidities, such as type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia or hypertension. However, there are more potential side effects with bupropion-naltrexone, which one might read about here: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a619020.html
Before Ozempic began making headlines, the most recent fat-reducing wonder drug was orlistat, first released in 1999 under the brand name Xenical. Today, lower doses of orlistat are available over the counter as Alli. The drug works by blocking the absorption of fat in the intestines, which means the body is taking in fewer calories from consumed food.
Xenical, like other prescribed weight loss drugs, is recommended for patients with a BMI of 30 or more or a BMI of 27 or more with any associated comorbidities. Alli, on the other hand, is available over the counter, which means a much larger percentage of the population has access to it. The FDA approved Alli for use in adults aged 18 and older with BMIs of 25 or more. However, as with all weight loss drugs in history, a number of nasty side effects have been identified with orlistat, to include: https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/orlistat-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20065184?p=1
Phentermine is a highly effective weight loss drug that was one of the components of one of the most famous weight loss drugs of all time, fen-phen. Fen-phen was banned for its severe side effects, but patients can still access phentermine in phentermine-topiramate, or the brand-name drug Qysmia. Phentermine functions in the body almost like an amphetamine, stimulating metabolism and suppressing appetite. Topiramate is an anticonvulsant that helps to reduce the negative side-effects of phentermine.
To qualify for Qysmia, patients must have a BMI of 27 or higher and suffer from a weight-related condition. Yet, before anyone considers this drug as the best option for shedding unwanted fat, they might do well to read about the lawsuits associated with the previous medication relying on phentermine for weight loss results: https://www.nytimes.com/1999/10/08/business/fen-phen-maker-to-pay-billions-in-settlement-of-diet-injury-cases.html
Ozempic seems to be a promising new way to help individuals lose weight. Still, it is imperative that anyone prescribed a weight loss medication use that drug exactly as indicated by doctors and pharmacists, as the risks for dangerous side effects tend to be high.