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FDA Approved Diet Pills (prescription)

      Prescription diet pills, when used in conjunction with a healthful diet and daily exercise, have been proven to assist weight loss. Some of these diet pills are designed for short term use, whereas others are acceptable for longer term use. There are three primary categories of diet pills available today. These have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of obesity. These include Orlistat, Alli (Xenical), Sibutramine (Meridia) and sympathomimetic appetite suppressants, such as Phentermine. These three categories of diet pills operate in different ways in the treatment of obesity.


      Phentermine received FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval in 1959 as a prescription appetite suppressant for the short term treatment of obesity. Phentermine Hydrochloride became widely available in United States in the 1970s.
      Phentermine, like most available weight loss medications, is considered an appetite suppressant medications. Appetite suppressant medications like Phentermine promote weight loss by decreasing appetite or increasing the feeling of being full. These medications decrease appetite by increasing serotonin or catecholamine, which are two brain chemicals that affect mood and appetite.
      Phentermine is the most popular and most frequently prescribed prescription appetite suppressant on the market today. The popularity of Phentermine is largely due to it's lower cost than other diet medications, such as Xenical and Meridia.


      Meridia works as an appetite suppressant by acting on neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain. Meridia acts by increasing the amount of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the synapses of the brain. Unlike many other diet pills that increase the release of these neurotransmitters, Meridia inhibits the reuptake of these neurotransmitters. The overall effect is an increase of the neurotransmitters, leading to a decrease in appetite.
      Potential side effects of meridia are dry mouth, insomnia, constipation, headache and high blood pressure. Certain individuals are not considered good candidates for Meridia, including those with coronary artery disease, hypertension, heartbeat irregularity and those with any history of stroke or congestive heart failure.
      The FDA has recently issued strong warnings about the use of Meridia, due to it's link with over 28 deaths and hundreds of adverse reactions. The maker of Meridia has also recently removed it from the market, so it is no longer available.

Sympathomimetic Appetite Suppressants

      Sympathomimetic appetite suppressants are used in the short term treatment of obesity. Their appetite reducing effects generally only last for a number of weeks. Like all other diet pills, they are intended for use in conjunction with a healthful diet and regular exercise.These diet pills generally work by stimulating the hypothalamus gland and affecting certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, to decrease appetite. The following appetite suppressant diet pills are available by prescription:

Diethylpropion (Tenuate)
Phendimetrazine (Bontril)
Phentermine (Adipex-P, Fastin, Ionamin)

Xenical (Alli, now available over the counter)

      Xenical was approved by the FDA in 1999. It works within the gastrointestinal tract by blocking about 30% of dietary fat from being absorbed by the body. Evidence to date indicates that it may be a safe and useful weight loss tool for some obese people when used in conjunction with diet and exercise.
      Unlike the majority of other diet pills that work by altering brain chemistry to suppress appetite, Xenical works by inhibiting the action of the enzyme lipase in the intestinal tract. Lipase acts to break down dietary fat in order that the body may more easily absorb it. Because Xenical inhibits the enzyme that works to break down fat, it helps the body to block the absorption of the fat. The unabsorbed fat is then eliminated in the stool.
      Some researchers also suggest that in addition to blocking fat absorption by the body, Xenical may also help people avoid consuming too much fat. Potential side effects of Xenical include oily stools, gas and frequent bowel movements. These side effects often worsen with heightened fat consumption. Xenical is also believed to reduce the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as beta carotene. Often, users of Xenical take vitamin supplements containing these vitamins two hours before taking the diet pill.
      FDA recommendations for Xenical suggest that only those people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more should use this diet pill. The exception may be individuals with a BMI of 27 or more who have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Information on Contrave the FDA Panel Advisory's New Diet Pill Recommendation.

Potential Future Weight Loss Drugs in Trial Stages

There are numerous online resources that offer information about drugs ranging from heroin to prescription medications. Visit the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research for information about all drugs, including diet pills. Consult the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Warnings and Safety Information pages to learn about recent diet pills alerts, diet supplements alerts and other diet product warnings.

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