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Prescription Diet Pills
Over the Counter Diet Pills
Diet Pills Consumer Alerts
Generic Diet Pills
Prescription dieting pills and other weight loss pills represent massive revenues for the pharmaceutical industry. It has been estimated that almost 20 million Americans purchase some form of diet medication every year. Although numerous studies have shown that diet medication, when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and daily exercise, can reduce weight in obese people, many people have come to view weight loss pills as a fast and easy way to lose weight.
Potential Future Weight Loss Drugs in Trial Stages
A History of Diet Pills
In the early days of diet pills - the 1960s and 1970s - diet pills were primarily amphetamine derivatives, otherwise known as "speed". As a result of the addictive properties of speed, doctors ceased prescribing these drugs for weight loss. In 1973, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug fenfluramine (Pondimin), followed by dexfenfluramine (Redux) in 1996. The diet drug Phentermine (a sympathomimetic appetite suppressant) was approved in 1997. As this time, some doctors began prescribing Phentermine in combination with fenfluramine. This combined drug was called fen-phen. Reports of heart valve disease resulting from the use of fen-phen began to surface, and the makers of fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine withdrew these diet pills from the market. This was the end of fen-phen.
Drugs such as fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine acted on the brain by increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter linked to improved appetite, satiety and mood. Fen-phen acted by both increasing an individual's metabolic rate, while at the same time making the brain believe that the stomach was full. The most prescribed weight loss medications in the US are sympathomimetic appetite suppressants, the most popular being Phentermine. These drugs work by stimulating the hypothalamus gland and affecting certain neurotransmitters to decrease appetite.
The hypothalamus is a region of the brain responsible for controlling the autonomic nervous system, regulating sleep cycles, appetite and body temperature. Orlistat (Xenical) is a lipase inhibitor that acts by inhibiting the absorption of dietary fats into the body. It was approved in 1999. Sibutramine (Meridia) was approved by the FDA in 2001, and acts on the brain through norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine reuptake inhibition.
During the past many decades, a number of over the counter (OTC) diet pills have also been marketed to consumers. Increasingly popular today is the use of 'herbal' diet pills and weight loss supplements. Although the FDA regulates how these products can be advertised, as well as how they should be used, many of these products contain ephedra, phenylpropanolamine (PPA) and other potentially harmful substances. Care must be exercised when considering any weight loss product, whether prescription or non prescription.
Important Notes about Weight Loss Medications
The FDA has a number of regulations about how diet pills can be advertised, how they can be prescribed, what conditions they can be prescribed for, dosage levels, drug combinations and length of use. When any drug is used contrary to these regulations, the term "off label use" is often applied. Those taking dieting medications should ensure that they are not using these pills in this manner, as this can have profound adverse reactions on health and the body, including blood pressure and metabolism. As well, those considering weight loss medications of any sort should be aware that these products are only designed to be effective when used in conjunction with proper diet and physical activity.
Visit the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research for information about all drugs, including dieting pills. Consult the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Warnings and Safety Information pages to learn about recent medication alerts, diet supplements alerts and other diet product warnings.