Contrave: New Weight Loss Drug

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of American adults are obese. Obesity continues to be a major health concern to the public. This past Wednesday, the FDA officially approved of the new weight-loss drug on the market,Contrave. It joins the two other weight loss drugs, Qsymia and Belviq, both were approved in 2012.

Who is eligible for the new drug?

To be eligible to take Contrave, adults must have a BMI of 30 or greater (obese) or a BMI of 27 or greater (overweight) along with at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.

What is in the drug?

Contrave is a combination of two FDA-approved drugs, naltrexone and bupropion in a extended release formulation. Naltrexone is used to treat alcohol and opioid dependence. Bupropion is an anti-depressant that can also be used to help people quit smoking.

Possible Risks

Since the drug contains the anti-depressant Bupropion, Contrave will have a boxed warning to alert health care professionals and patients to the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and possible behaviors associated with antidepressants. Contrave can also cause seizures and can’t be used in patients who have seizure disorders.

Patients who take Contrave should be closely monitored by a physician and reevaluated in 12 weeks. If the person has not lost at least 5 percent of their own body weight, the drug should be discontinued.It will be unlikely that the patient will achieve successful weight loss with continued treatment.

How does the drug work?

“‘It takes away hunger and the cravings for food,” says John Foreyt, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. Foreyt was a researcher on a clinical trial that studied Contrave. The bupropion helps lessen appetite while the naltrexone blocks certain brain receptors the curbs cravings.

All of the three current weight loss drugs work in similar ways but Contrave is another option since not all weight-loss drugs work the same for everyone. Contrave should be used as directed in combination with a lifestyle that includes a reduced-calorie diet and exercise.

For more information about Contrave, visit the FDA’s article on the drug.

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