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What Prescription Weight Loss Medications Are Available?

I've been trying for years to lose weight, but just can't seem to do it. My doctor has already ruled out any underlying medical conditions that could be preventing me from losing weight. I’ve tried exercise, changing my diet, and a whole host of over-the-counter (OTC) pills and supplements. Nothing has worked. I'm wondering if I should talk to my doctor about prescription medications, but I'm concerned about side effects. What prescription weight loss medications are available? How effective are they? What are the associated risks?

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A number of prescription weight loss medications are available. The most commonly prescribed medications include diethylpropion (Tenuate®), lorcaserin (Belviq®), orlistat (Xenical® or Alli®), phentermine (Adipex-P®), and phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia®).
Most of these medications are similarly effective when used as directed. In studies, people taking them lost five to eight pounds more than those taking a placebo at the end of the treatment period (ranging from six months to two years of treatment). A notable exception is phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia). This medication resulted in an average 20-pound weight loss after one year of treatment.
There are risks associated with these medications, as there are with any medication. The most common serious side effects include heart problems, stroke, and psychiatric problems, including suicidal thoughts. The risks are dependent upon the specific medication.
Because of the risks and their modest efficacy, prescription weight loss medications are only indicated in certain people. Your healthcare provider can tell you if you are a candidate for treatment with a prescription weight loss medication. 
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