The Cleveland Clinic

Weight Loss:
Prescription Weight Loss Medicine

Obesity often requires long-term treatment to promote and sustain weight loss. As in other chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, long-term use of prescription medications may be appropriate for some people. While most side effects of prescription medications for obesity are mild, serious complications have been reported (see below.)

Keep in mind that these drugs are not a cure-all. The use of weight-loss medications should be combined with physical activity and improved diet to lose and maintain weight successfully over the long term .

Do I Need Medicine to Lose Weight?

Using prescription drugs to treat obesity should be used as an option for the following individuals:

  • People with a body mass index (BMI) > 30 with no obesity-related conditions.
  • A person with a BMI of > 27 with two or more obesity-related conditions .

What Prescription Medicines Are Used to Treat Obesity?

Currently, most available weight-loss medications approved by the FDA are for short-term use, meaning a few weeks or months.

Most available weight-loss medications are "appetite-suppressant" medications. These include: Didrex, Tenuate, Sanorex, Mazanor, Adipex-P and Meridia. These medications generally come in the form of tablets or extended-release capsules (pills that release medication over a long period of time). Appetite suppressants can be obtained by a doctor's prescription or purchased over the counter .