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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 179674, 18 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/179674
Review Article

Pharmacotherapies for Obesity: Past, Current, and Future Therapies

Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Alfred Centre, Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia

Received 4 August 2010; Accepted 24 September 2010

Academic Editor: A. Halpern

Copyright © 2011 Lisa L. Ioannides-Demos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Past therapies for the treatment of obesity have typically involved pharmacological agents usually in combination with a calorie-controlled diet. This paper reviews the efficacy and safety of pharmacotherapies for obesity focusing on drugs approved for long-term therapy (orlistat), drugs approved for short-term use (amfepramone [diethylpropion], phentermine), recently withdrawn therapies (rimonabant, sibutamine) and drugs evaluated in Phase III studies (taranabant, pramlintide, lorcaserin and tesofensine and combination therapies of topiramate plus phentermine, bupropion plus naltrexone, and bupropion plus zonisamide). No current pharmacotherapy possesses the efficacy needed to produce substantial weight loss in morbidly obese patients. Meta-analyses support a significant though modest loss in bodyweight with a mean weight difference of 4.7 kg (95% CI 4.1 to 5.3 kg) for rimonabant, 4.2 kg (95% CI 3.6 to 4.8 kg) for sibutramine and 2.9 kg (95% CI 2.5 to 3.2 kg) for orlistat compared to placebo at ≥12 months. Of the Phase III pharmacotherapies, lorcaserin, taranabant, topiramate and bupropion with naltrexone have demonstrated significant weight loss compared to placebo at ≥12 months. Some pharmacotherapies have also demonstrated clinical benefits. Further studies are required in some populations such as younger and older people whilst the long term safety continues to be a major consideration and has led to the withdrawal of several drugs.