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UncategorizedWhat Are the Best Prescription Weight Loss Pills?

What Are the Best Prescription Weight Loss Pills?

If you’re one of many people struggling with weight loss, you may be wondering whether weight loss medications are an option for you. 

You’ve likely heard all about the importance of a healthy diet and routine exercise in maintaining a healthy weight; but for many people, reaching that target weight can be difficult without extra help.

There’s no single best weight loss medication. The best one for you will be the one that gives you the results you desire, with as few side effects as possible, and at a cost you can afford. Generally speaking, pills are a more affordable option than injectables. Here’s an introduction to prescription weight loss pills.

What prescription weight loss pills are available?

Weight loss medications that you take as a pill are a convenient, needle-free option for people who need help to lose excess body weight. Typically, people can lose up to 5% to 10% of their body weight on these medications. 

Prescription-only pills that are FDA approved for weight loss are summarized below. They’re most effective when combined with lifestyle changes, like a healthy diet and exercise. 

Keep in mind: Your healthcare provider could also prescribe a different pill, such as metformin, for off-label use for weight loss.


Contrave is an oral tablet that combines two medications into one pill: naltrexone and bupropion. You gradually increase your dose during the first month of taking it, but once your body gets used to it, most people take 2 tablets every morning and 2 tablets every evening. 

The active ingredients in Contrave work together to reduce your appetite and cravings for food. In initial studies, more than 40% of adults who took Contrave for 1 year lost at least 5% of their initial body weight. More than 20% lost at least 10% of their body weight. Your healthcare provider may be more inclined to prescribe Contrave if you experience emotional eating.

At this time, Contrave is only prescribed as a brand-name medication. A generic version isn’t available yet. And, it’s only approved for adults, so children can’t take it. 


Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate ER) is another brand-name combination pill. Available as an oral capsule, it’s a once-daily option for weight loss in people 12 years and older. But keep in mind, since it contains phentermine, Qsymia is considered a controlled substance. It’s not the best option if you or a loved one have a history of substance misuse or dependency.

Qsymia works by reducing your appetite. In initial studies, Qsymia helped about 70% of adults lose at least 5% of their body weight after 1 year. Close to 50% of participants lost at least 10% of their body weight.

When compared to Contrave, researchers found that Qsymia is usually the more effective option.


Phentermine (Adipex-P) is a prescription weight loss medication that comes as a tablet and capsule. It’s available in both generic and brand name versions for people ages 17 and older. But, it’s also a controlled substance and comes with health risks. 

Unlike the medications above, phentermine is only FDA approved for use for up to 12 weeksat a time. That’s because your body can grow used to the medication, so its effects can weaken. At the same time, the risk of side effects, dependency, and misuse increase the longer you take it.

All the same, phentermine is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for weight loss, probably because of its low cost. Data suggests that it can help people shed about 3% to 5% of their initial body weight.  

Benzphetaminediethylpropion, and phendimetrazine are weight loss pills that are similar to phentermine, but they’re prescribed less often. They’re also controlled substances meant for short-term use.


Orlistat (Xenical) is another brand-name prescription weight loss pill. It’s an oral capsule that adults can take 3 times per day with meals. However, it’s less common than other weight loss pills, it’s not approved for kids or adolescents, and it can cause some bothersome side effects.

Still, orlistat works by helping your body absorb less fat from the meals you eat. It can also reduce the risk of regaining weight after losing weight. In initial studies, orlistat helped up to 55% of adults lose 5% or more of their body weight after 1 year. Up to 25% lost at least 10% of their body weight.

A lower-dose version of orlistat, Alli, is available over the counter. It can support weight loss in adults alongside a low-fat, low-calorie diet, but the effects are less than the prescription dose.

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