Anti-obesity medication or weight loss drugs are all pharmacological agents that reduce or control weight. These drugs alter one of the fundamental processes of the human body, weight regulation, by either altering appetite, metabolism, or absorption of calories. The main treatment modalities for overweight and obese individuals remain dieting and physical exercise.
Only one anti-obesity medications orlistat (Xenical) is currently approved by the FDA for long term use. It reduces intestinal fat absorption by inhibiting pancreatic lipase. Rimonabant (Acomplia), a second drug, works via a specific blockade of the endocannabinoid system. It has been developed from the knowledge that cannabis smokers often experience hunger, which is often referred to as "the munchies". It had been approved in Europe for the treatment of obesity but has not received approval in the United States or Canada due to safety concerns. The European Medicines Agency in October 2008 recommended the suspension of the sale of rimonabant as the risks seem to be greater than the benefits. Sibutramine (Meridia), which acts in the brain to inhibit deactivation of the neurotransmitters, thereby decreasing appetite was withdrawn from the United States and Canadian markets in October 2010 due to cardiovascular concerns.
Because of potential side effects, it is recommended that anti-obesity drugs only be prescribed for obesity where it is hoped that the benefits of the treatment outweigh its risks.
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