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New FDA-Approved Weight Loss Drugs – Top 8

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In recent years, the obesity epidemic has become a major public health concern, with over 40% of American adults suffering from this condition. Obesity can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

While lifestyle changes are crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, sometimes they may not be enough. Fortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved several new weight loss drugs that have shown promising results in clinical trials.

These medications work by targeting various mechanisms in the body, such as suppressing appetite, increasing feelings of fullness, or altering the way fat is absorbed and stored. But are these new drugs the long-awaited solution to the obesity crisis, or do they come with hidden risks and side effects?

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the new FDA-approved weight loss drugs, exploring their mechanisms of action, potential benefits, and possible drawbacks. We will also discuss who may be eligible for these treatments and the importance of consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any weight loss medication. By the end of this piece, you will have a better understanding of these new options and whether they could be a viable solution for those struggling with obesity.

Understanding Obesity and Overweight

Before delving into the specifics of FDA-approved obesity medication, it’s essential to understand what obesity and overweight mean. Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher, while overweight is characterized by a BMI between 25 and 29.9. BMI is a measure of body fat based on an individual’s weight and height, and it is commonly used to determine whether a person’s weight falls within a healthy range.

Carrying excess weight can lead to numerous health risks, including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pregnancy complications

These health risks underscore the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and seeking appropriate interventions when necessary. While lifestyle modifications are the first line of defense against obesity, some individuals may require additional support from FDA-approved weight loss medications to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

8 Most Effective FDA-Approved Drugs For Weight Loss

Currently, there are several FDA-Approved drugs available by prescription. These medications work through various mechanisms to support weight loss, such as suppressing appetite, reducing fat absorption, or increasing feelings of fullness. Here is an overview of some of the most notable weight loss drugs approved by the FDA.

  1. Wegovy (semaglutide): Wegovy, one of the newest FDA-approved weight loss drugs, received approval in 2021. This injectable medication is administered once a week. As a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, it helps regulate appetite and food intake. Clinical trials showed that participants taking Wegovy lost an average of 15-18% of their initial body weight over 68 weeks when combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.
  2. Zepbound (tirzepatide): In the wake of Wegovy’s FDA approval, another weight loss drug called Zepbound has recently been given the green light. Zepbound, the brand name for Tirzepatide, secured FDA approval in November 2023 as a weight loss treatment. It’s designed to help people who are overweight or obese shed some pounds. The injectable drug was made by a company called Eli Lilly and it works by focusing on two hormones in your body, GIP and GLP-1. These hormones help control how hungry you feel and the amount of sugar in your blood. Zepbound contains an ingredient called tirzepatide, which is also found in a diabetes medicine called Mounjaro.
  3. Saxenda (liraglutide): Saxenda (liraglutide) is a medication approved by the FDA for long-term weight management in adult patients who are obese or overweight and have at least one weight-related health condition. Originally, liraglutide was approved by the FDA under the brand name Victoza for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, on December 23, 2014, the FDA granted approval for liraglutide under the brand name Saxenda specifically for the treatment of obesity.
  4. Qsymia (phentermine-topiramate): Qsymia is an oral weight loss pill that combines two drugs: phentermine, an appetite suppressant, and topiramate, an anticonvulsant that has been shown to promote weight loss. It was FDA-approved for weight loss in 2012. Phentermine/topiramate is effective for long-term weight loss when diet and exercise fail, but it’s contraindicated in severe heart disease; reproductive-aged women need contraception and regular pregnancy tests while taking it. In clinical trials, participants taking Qsymia lost an average of 8-10% of their initial body weight when combined with lifestyle modifications.
  5. Contrave (bupropion-naltrexone): Contrave is an oral medication that combines bupropion, an antidepressant, and naltrexone, an opioid antagonist. It was FDA-approved for weight loss in 2014. In clinical trials, participants taking Contrave lost an average of 5-8% of their initial body weight when combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. According to FDA guidelines, if Contrave fails to produce results within a 12-week period, it is recommended that the medication be discontinued.
  6. Xenical (orlistat): Xenical is a medication that helps with weight loss by blocking the absorption of fat in the intestine. It works by inhibiting an enzyme called lipase, which is responsible for breaking down dietary fats. It was FDA-approved for weight loss in 1999. Orlistat is available in two forms: Xenical, which requires a prescription, and Alli, which can be purchased over the counter. It is important to note that Xenical should not be taken by pregnant women, as losing weight during pregnancy is not advisable and may pose risks to the developing fetus. In clinical trials, participants taking Xenical lost an average of 5-7% of their initial body weight when combined with lifestyle changes.
  7. Alli (orlistat): Alli is an over-the-counter (OTC) version of orlistat, available at a lower dose than prescription Xenical. It works by reducing the absorption of dietary fat in the intestines. While Alli is generally less effective than prescription weight loss medications, it can still be helpful for some individuals when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Alli is one of the few pills approved by the FDA for OTC use.
  8. Imcivree (setmelanotide): Imcivree is an injectable medication that was FDA-approved in 2020 for the treatment of obesity caused by certain rare genetic conditions, such as pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) deficiency, proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 1 (PCSK1) deficiency, and leptin receptor (LEPR) deficiency. It works by activating the melanocortin-4 receptor, which helps regulate appetite and energy expenditure.

These weight loss medications and those under development have shown effectiveness in promoting weight loss when used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. However, it is important to note that these medications may not be suitable for everyone and can have potential side effects. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider to determine whether a weight loss medication is appropriate for an individual’s specific needs and medical history.

How to Choose the Most Effective FDA approved Drugs for Weight Loss?

When you’re looking at different FDA-approved medicines to help you lose weight, it’s super important to make smart choices to get the best results. Let’s break down how you can make your decision even better with some extra tips and advice.

  1. Talk to a Doctor: Before you start taking any medicine to help you lose weight, it’s a must to chat with your doctor or a healthcare expert. They can look at your health history and what medicines you’re already taking to figure out the best option for you. Consider seeking a specialist through reputable organizations such as:

    The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA): Provides a directory of obesity medicine specialists who are trained in the latest weight loss medications and management strategies (Obesity Medicine Association).

  2. Understand How the Medicine Works: Different weight loss medicines work in different ways. For example, a medicine called Orlistat helps by reducing the amount of fat your body absorbs from the food you eat. Others, like Liraglutide (Saxenda) and Semaglutide (Wegovy), work by making you feel less hungry and more full. For deeper insights into the mechanisms of action of these drugs, educational resources from:

    The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): Offers detailed explanations of how weight loss medications work (NIDDK).

  3. Know the Side Effects: Every medicine can have side effects, and it’s the same with weight loss drugs. Orlistat might cause stomach issues, while another medicine called Phentermine-Topiramate (Qsymia) could make your mouth dry, make it hard to poop, or keep you awake at night. It’s important to talk about these possible side effects with your doctor to know what you might expect. For a comprehensive list of side effects and how to manage them, resources like:

    MedlinePlus: A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, provides reliable information on medication side effects and how to mitigate them (MedlinePlus).

  4. Check How Well It Works Over Time: Some medicines, like Semaglutide and Liraglutide, have been shown to help people lose a good amount of weight and keep it off for a while. But remember, these medicines work best when you also eat healthily and exercise regularly. Scholarly articles and clinical trial results can be found on:

    PubMed: A free search engine accessing primarily the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics (PubMed).

  5. Think About the Cost: These medicines can be pricey, and your health insurance might not cover them. Make sure to check with your insurance to see if they’ll pay for the medicine you’re considering, and talk about the cost with your doctor. For information on medication coverage and assistance programs, visit:

    GoodRx: Offers a comparison of prescription drug prices and provides coupons for discounts at pharmacies (GoodRx).

  6. Look at What Other People Say: Reading reviews from people who’ve taken these medicines can give you a clue about how well they work, what side effects they had, and if they were happy with the results. Just remember, everyone’s different, and what works for someone else might not work the same for you. Websites like: Provides a platform for users to review their experiences with various medications, including those for weight loss (

By keeping these points in mind, you’ll be better prepared to choose the right weight loss medicine with your doctor’s help. Remember, the goal is to find a safe and effective way to help you lose weight alongside eating right and staying active.

Weight Loss Strategies

When it comes to losing weight, there are two main approaches: lifestyle changes and medical interventions. A comprehensive weight loss plan often incorporates both strategies to maximize results and ensure long-term success.

Lifestyle Changes

  1. Calorie-restricted diet: Consuming fewer calories than your body burns is essential for weight loss. A balanced, calorie-restricted diet should include a variety of nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It’s important to work with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine an appropriate calorie target based on your individual needs and goals.
  2. Regular physical activity: Engaging in regular physical activity is crucial for weight loss and overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. Finding enjoyable activities and gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts can help you stay motivated and consistent.

Medical Interventions

  1. Prescription weight loss medications: For individuals who have struggled to lose weight through lifestyle changes alone, doctor-prescribed weight loss medication may be an option. These medications are typically prescribed for people with a BMI of 30 or higher or those with a BMI of 27 or higher who have at least one weight-related health condition, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. It’s important to note that weight loss drugs should be used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.
  2. Bariatric surgery: In some cases, individuals with severe obesity (BMI of 40 or higher) or those with a BMI of 35 or higher and at least one obesity-related health condition may be candidates for bariatric surgery. These surgical procedures, such as gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy, aim to reduce the size of the stomach and alter the digestive process to promote weight loss. However, surgery is typically considered a last resort after other weight loss methods have been exhausted.

Overview of the FDA Approval Process for Weight Loss Drugs Before a weight loss drug can be prescribed to patients, it must go through a stringent FDA approval process. This process involves several stages of clinical trials to evaluate the drug’s safety, efficacy, and potential side effects. The FDA closely reviews the data from these trials to determine whether the benefits of the medication outweigh any risks. Only after a drug has been deemed safe and effective by the FDA can it be marketed and prescribed to patients for weight management purposes.

The FDA approval process for weight loss drugs typically involves the following steps:

  1. Preclinical studies: Before a drug can be tested in humans, it must undergo preclinical studies in animals to assess its safety and potential effectiveness.
  2. Clinical trials: If preclinical studies are successful, the drug moves on to clinical trials in humans. These trials are divided into three phases:
    • Phase 1: The drug is tested in a small group of healthy volunteers to evaluate its safety and determine appropriate dosing.
    • Phase 2: The drug is tested on a larger group of people with obesity to assess its effectiveness and monitor side effects.
    • Phase 3: The drug is tested in an even larger group of people with obesity to confirm its safety and efficacy and compare it to existing treatments or a placebo.
  3. FDA review: After the completion of clinical trials, the drug manufacturer submits a New Drug Application (NDA) to the FDA. The FDA reviews the data from the clinical trials and decides whether to approve the drug for weight management.
  4. Post-market monitoring: Even after a drug is approved, the FDA continues to monitor its safety and effectiveness through post-market studies and adverse event reporting systems.

This rigorous approval process helps ensure that only safe and effective weight-loss medications are made available to patients and healthcare providers.

Combining Medication with Lifestyle Changes

While weight loss drugs can be effective tools in the fight against obesity, it is important to recognize that they are not meant to be used as a standalone solution. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight in the long term, it is essential to combine medication with lifestyle changes, such as adopting a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity.

A holistic approach to weight management has several key benefits:

  1. Enhanced weight loss: Combining medication with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity can lead to greater weight loss than either approach alone. This synergistic effect can help individuals achieve their weight loss goals more efficiently and effectively.
  2. Improved overall health: Adopting healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a nutrient-dense diet and exercising regularly, can provide numerous health benefits beyond weight loss. These benefits include improved cardiovascular health, better blood sugar control, increased energy levels, and enhanced mental well-being.
  3. Long-term success: While weight loss medications can help individuals lose weight in the short term, maintaining that weight loss requires a long-term commitment to healthy living. By developing sustainable lifestyle habits while taking medication, individuals are better equipped to maintain their weight loss even after discontinuing the medication.

To maximize the benefits of a comprehensive weight management approach, consider the following strategies:

  • Work with a registered dietitian to develop a personalized, balanced meal plan that promotes weight loss while ensuring adequate nutrition.
  • Gradually increase physical activity levels, aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.
  • Engage in regular self-monitoring, such as keeping a food and exercise diary, to track progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • Seek support from family, friends, or a professional therapist to address any emotional or psychological barriers to weight loss and maintain motivation.
  • Regularly consult with a healthcare provider to monitor progress, adjust medication dosages as needed, and address any potential side effects or concerns.

By combining FDA-approved weight loss medications with a comprehensive lifestyle approach, individuals can maximize their weight loss potential and improve their overall health and quality of life.

Safety Considerations and Precautions

While FDA-approved appetite suppressants have been thoroughly evaluated for safety and efficacy, they are not without potential risks and side effects. As with any medication, it is crucial to be aware of these safety considerations and take appropriate precautions when using these drugs for weight management.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Each weight loss medication has its own set of potential side effects, which can vary in severity and frequency. Some common side effects associated with these drugs include:

  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Dry mouth and taste changes
  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Anxiety or mood changes
  • Allergic reactions, such as rash or itching

In rare cases, more serious side effects may occur, such as pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, or suicidal thoughts. It is essential to promptly report any unusual or severe side effects to a healthcare provider.

Importance of Medical Supervision

Given the potential risks and side effects associated with weight loss medications, it is crucial to use these drugs only under the close supervision of a qualified healthcare provider. Before prescribing a weight loss medication, a healthcare provider will typically:

  • Assess an individual’s medical history, including any pre-existing health conditions or medications that may interact with the weight loss drug
  • Determine whether the potential benefits of the medication outweigh the risks for the individual
  • Discuss the expected outcomes, potential side effects, and any necessary precautions with the patient
  • Provide guidance on proper dosing and administration of the medication
  • Schedule regular follow-up appointments to monitor progress, adjust dosages as needed, and address any concerns that may arise

By working closely with a healthcare provider, individuals can minimize the risks associated with weight loss medications and maximize their chances of success.

Contraindications and Drug Interactions

Certain individuals may not be suitable candidates for weight loss drugs approved by the FDA due to pre-existing health conditions or potential drug interactions. Some common contraindications for these medications include:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • History of certain psychiatric disorders, such as major depression or suicidal thoughts
  • Personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2
  • History of pancreatitis
  • Glaucoma
  • Severe liver or kidney disease

Additionally, weight loss medications may interact with other drugs, such as antidepressants, opioids, or blood thinners, potentially leading to adverse effects. It is essential to inform a healthcare provider about all current medications and supplements before starting a weight loss drug to avoid dangerous interactions.

By being aware of these safety considerations and precautions and working closely with a healthcare provider, individuals can minimize the risks associated with FDA Approved Drug Treatment and maximize their potential benefits for weight management.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When considering Prescription weight loss drugs approved by the FDA, individuals often have many questions about their use, safety, and effectiveness. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers:

Who is a candidate for Medically approved weight loss drugs?

Weight loss medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration are typically prescribed for individuals who meet the following criteria:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, which is considered obese
  • Have a BMI of 27 or higher and at least one weight-related health condition, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
  • Have struggled to lose weight through diet and exercise alone

However, the decision to prescribe a weight loss medication is ultimately made on a case-by-case basis by a healthcare provider, taking into account an individual’s unique medical history and circumstances.

How long do I need to take these medications?

The duration of treatment with prescription drugs can vary depending on the specific medication and individual response. Some drugs, such as Wegovy and Saxenda, are intended for long-term use as part of a comprehensive weight management plan. Others, like Qsymia and Contrave, may be used for shorter periods, typically 12 to 24 weeks, before assessing their effectiveness and determining whether to continue treatment.

It is important to follow a healthcare provider’s guidance on the appropriate duration of treatment and not discontinue medication without medical supervision.

Can I use these drugs without a prescription?

No, all FDA-approved weight management medications require a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. These medications are not available over the counter due to their potential risks and the need for medical supervision.

What should I do if I experience side effects?

If you experience any side effects while taking weight loss drugs, it is essential to promptly report them to your healthcare provider. Some side effects may be mild and temporary, while others may be more severe and require medical attention.

Your healthcare provider can help you manage side effects by adjusting your dosage, recommending strategies to minimize discomfort, or, if necessary, switching to a different medication.

Are there any natural alternatives to weight loss drugs?

While there are many natural supplements and herbal products marketed for weight loss, none have been proven to be as effective as doctor-supervised weight loss medication. Additionally, these supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety or efficacy, and some may even contain harmful ingredients.

The most effective and safe approach to weight loss is to adopt a balanced diet, engage in regular physical activity, and work closely with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized weight management plan. In some cases, FDA-approved weight loss drugs may be recommended as part of this comprehensive approach.

How much weight can I lose with these medicines?

Studies show that, on average, people can lose 5-15% of their weight with FDA-approved medicines, when they also follow a healthy diet and exercise plan.

Can I take these medicines for a long time?

Most weight loss medicines are meant to be used for a long time, except for Imcivree. But it’s important to talk to a doctor to figure out the best and safest choice for you.

Who can take these medicines?

Not everyone can get weight loss medications. Usually, they are given to adults who are obese (have a BMI of 30 or more) or overweight (have a BMI of 27 or more) and also have health problems related to their weight, like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Are there any side effects?

Yes, all medicines can have side effects. Common side effects of weight loss medicines can include constipation, nausea, headache, and feeling tired. It’s important to talk to your doctor about any possible side effects.

Is ozempic approved by the FDA?

No, the FDA has not approved Ozempic for weight loss. Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication that has been approved by the FDA to treat type 2 diabetes in adults. Recently, it has become popular as a weight loss aid, even though the FDA has not approved it for this purpose. The active ingredient in Ozempic, called semaglutide, is also found in Wegoby, which is an FDA-approved weight loss drug. Semaglutide works by slowing down how quickly the stomach empties, which may help reduce appetite.



In summary, the new FDA-approved weight loss drugs provide a promising option for individuals struggling with obesity when lifestyle changes alone are insufficient. While these medications can lead to significant weight loss, they should be used in combination with a healthy diet and exercise for optimal results. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if these drugs are appropriate for one’s specific needs and medical history. Obesity remains a major public health concern, and finding effective treatments is essential in preventing associated health problems. As with any medical treatment, the decision to use weight loss drugs should be made in close collaboration with a qualified healthcare provider. By staying informed and working with their healthcare team, individuals with obesity can take a significant step towards achieving a healthier weight and improving their quality of life.