16 Jan Endocrine Society Guidelines For Weight Loss Medications in Obesity
MedicalResearch.com interview with:
Caroline M. Apovian, MD
Chair of the Endocrine Society task force that developed “Pharmacological Management of Obesity: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline” Boston University School of Medicine
Boston Medical Center
MedicalResearch: What is the background for this report?
Dr. Apovian: The Food and Drug Administration has approved four new anti-obesity drugs – lorcaserin, phentermine/topiramate, naltrexone/bupropion and liraglutide – in the past two years. To help clinicians navigate this changing landscape, the Endocrine Society developed its Clinical Practice Guideline to provide strategies for prescribing drugs to manage obesity and promote weight loss.
MedicalResearch: What are the main findings?
Dr. Apovian: In the Clinical Practice Guideline, the Endocrine Society recommends that diet, exercise and behavioral modifications be part of all obesity management approaches. Other tools such as weight loss medications and bariatric surgery can be combined with behavioral changes to reduce food intake and increase physical activity, in appropriate patients. Patients who have been unable to successfully lose weight and maintain a goal weight may be candidates for prescription medication if they meet the criteria on the drug’s label as well as BMI criteria (BMI greater than or equal to 30 or greater than or equal to 27 with at least one comorbidity).
Other recommendations from the CPG include:
- If a patient responds well to a weight loss medication and loses 5 percent or more of their body weight after three months, the medication can be continued. If the medication is ineffective or the patient experiences side effects, the prescription should be stopped and an alternative medication or approach considered.
- Since some diabetes medications are associated with weight gain, people with diabetes who are obese or overweight should be given medications that promote weight loss or have no effect on weight as first- and second-line treatments. Doctors should discuss medications’ potential effects on weight with patients.
- Certain types of medication – angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers and calcium channel blockers – should be used as a first-line treatment for high blood pressure in obese people. These are effective blood pressure treatments that are less likely to contribute to weight gain than an alternative medication, beta-adrenergic blockers.
- When patients need medications that can have an impact on weight such as antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs and medications for treating epilepsy, they should be fully informed and provided with estimates of each option’s anticipated effect on weight. Doctors and patients should engage in a shared-decision making process to evaluate the options.
- In patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure or a history of heart disease, the medications phentermine and diethylpropion should not be used.
MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Apovian: Lifestyle changes should always be a central part of any weight loss strategy. Medications do not work by themselves, but they can help people maintain a healthy diet by reducing the appetite. Adding a medication to a lifestyle modification program is likely to result in greater weight loss.