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Prescription Weight Loss Medication Options

Wegovy®, Saxenda® or Qsymia®: Which Prescription Weight Loss Medication is Best for Me?

By Alexis Begliomini, PA-C | May 9, 2023

Currently, there are several FDA-approved anti-obesity medications available to patients who qualify.  These medications include  Wegovy®, Saxenda®, Qsymia® and a few more in clinical trials like Mounjaro™, but with so many choices how do you know which medication is best for you? Let’s review everything you need to help you decide. 

Do I Qualify?

First, determine if you meet the criteria for medical weight loss. 

  • Are you 18 years or older? Most weight loss medications are FDA-approved for adults 18 years old and over for use in conjunction with behavioral modifications, diet and exercise. 
  • What’s your BMI? A BMI greater than 30 with no obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea and PCOS, or a BMI greater than 27 with obesity-related conditions meet the criteria. Calculate your body mass index (BMI) here.

How Do The Medications Work?

Each weight loss medication is designed to decrease hunger while simultaneously increasing feelings of satiety, leading to reduced food intake and overall absorption of calories. 

Wegovy® & Saxenda®

Wegovy® (semaglutide) and Saxenda® (liraglutide) are both injectable prescription medications that assist in weight loss by mimicking a hormone that targets areas of the brain that regulates appetite and satiety (fullness), this can help with your overall portion control and ultimately weight loss.  

Wegovy® contains semaglutide, an active ingredient originally used only for the treatment of diabetes in a medication called Ozempic®.  When it was determined that the use of semaglutide to treat diabetes also helped the diabetic patients lose weight, Ozempic underwent a clinical trial for FDA-approval to treat obesity. Today we know this medication under the brand name Wegovy®, which is prescribed at a higher dose to treat obesity.

Wegovy® is a once-weekly self-administered injection and Saxenda® is a daily self-administered injection. Studies have shown that these medications are seeing slightly more weight loss (15-18% of total body weight) compared to Qsymia®. This means that a patient who weighs 200 pounds can expect to lose between 30-40 pounds on average with Wegovy® & Saxenda®

Qsymia®

Another commonly prescribed weight loss medication is Qsymia®, otherwise known as Phentermine/Topamax. Phentermine is a stimulant that  works as an appetite suppressant and its combination with Topamax helps to control food cravings. 

Qsymia® is a daily extended release tablet, which means the medication slowly releases over time giving the patient a longer lasting overall suppression of appetite, as well as helps to control cravings and snacking. The average weight loss is around 10% of total body weight which means a patient that is 200 pounds can expect to lose an average of 20 pounds.

On the Horizon: Mounjaro

Mounjaro, also known as Tirzepatide, is a medication that is FDA-approved for diabetes, but is currently in clinical trials for approval for obesity.  Mounjaro works by targeting GLP-1 receptors, proteins involved in the control of your blood sugar. This can lead to increased feelings of satiety.  Mounjaro also mimics another hormone called GIP or glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide. This can help decrease the amount of food eaten. Early results of the studies are showing a higher percentage decrease in body weight. 

When and if  it receives FDA-approval for the treatment of obesity, we will post an update. 

When deciding which weight loss medication is right for you, it's important to consider the average weight loss; side effects; whether or not you prefer injections or capsules, and obesity-related conditions. 

As with all weight loss medications, there are side effects. It’s important to discuss the side effects of any medication you are taking with your healthcare provider. 

The team at New Jersey Bariatric Center developed a comprehensive medical weight loss program from our experience treating and guiding patients on prescription weight loss medications during the last decade. Our experience taught us that weight loss goals are successfully achieved when doctor visits and weight loss medication are combined with long-term support and consistent nutrition education and counseling. To request more information on our medial weight loss program or to request an appointment, click here

Source

Singh, G., Krauthamer, M., & Bjalme-Evans, M. (2022). Wegovy (semaglutide): a new weight loss drug for chronic weight management. Journal of investigative medicine : the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research, 70(1), 5–13. https://doi.org/10.1136/jim-2021-001952

Alexis Begliomini is a physician assistant who provides clinical counseling for our bariatric surgery and medical weight loss patients in our Springfield location. She graduated with honors from Arcadia University with a B.A. degree in biology & minor in music. She attended graduate school at Marywood University in Scranton, PA to complete her Master of Science degree in physician assistant studies, where she focused her training in surgery.
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