New Combination of Drugs Shows Promise in Treatment for Obesity – Bridging the Gap Between Lifestyle Changes and Surgery

There is a potentially effective new combination of drugs used to treat obesity according to the results from a study conducted recently. The study involved 2,487 obese participants who took a combination of drugs called topiramate and phentermine while adopting a healthier eating and diet plan. These participants saw a greater amount of weight loss than those on a placebo pill who also dieted and exercised. 70% of the subjects on the highest dose saw noticeable weight loss that amounted to 5% of their beginning total body weight at the end of one year.

Treatment for Obesity

About 1,000 patients in the study were randomly assigned to take a placebo, 500 took low levels of phentermine and topiramate to treat obesity, and 1,000 took higher levels of the drugs. All participants were instructed on healthier lifestyle practices. After a year, the participants were assessed. The placebo group lost an average of 3 lbs (1.4 kg), those taking the lower doses of the drug combination lost about 18 lbs (8.1 kg) each, and the higher dose group lost approximately 22 lbs (10.2 kg) after the year was over.

Results from previous studies of drugs used for obesity treatment were surpassed by the results from this most recent study. The only approved long-term pharmaceutical treatment for obesity is orlistat. These new findings may provide people suffering with the inability to lose weight an additional option for dropping the pounds when current treatments are not working. This is exciting news for study researcher Dr. Kishore M. Gadde, who is the director of the obesity clinical trials program at Duke University Medical Center. “This potentially fills the gap that exists between lifestyle changes that are treatments for obesity diet and exercise and surgery,” Gadde said.

Further studies are necessary because it appeared that patients were too highly selected from among those who were qualified, so the general population may not see the same results that were observed in the test. The public should also know that this drug combination treatment for obesity resulted in severe side effects for some of the participants, including depression and anxiety. Also, no follow-ups were conducted to assess patients after they stopped taking the drugs used to treat obesity. Many potentially successful weight loss drugs have been rejected by the FDA because of a heightened risk for heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular risks that simply make the drugs too dangerous to take.

The first drug used to treat obesity in this study phentermine has been approved by the FDA for short-term obesity treatment. This means patients are allowed to take it for up to about three months. As of now, the lasting effects of the drug are unknown. Topiramate is a medication typically prescribed for the treatment of seizures. When taken in high doses, it can cause negative psychiatric side effects. Therefore, in this study, it was used in combination with another drug for obesity treatment in the hopes that the lower dose and combination would make it more tolerable.