In a study published in Obesity, an inexpensive weight-loss drug FDA-approved 60 years ago for a three month short-term use-- may now be regarded as safe and effective for longer-term treatment. The research was conducted by Wake Forest Baptist Health and the Patient Outcomes Research to Advance Learning (PORTAL) network.
"Although diet and exercise are critical components of any weight-loss program, up to half of patients don't have long-term success with lifestyle changes alone," said first author Kristina H. Lewis, M.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and prevention, at Wake Forest Baptist. "In those cases, medications or surgery can help. Generic phentermine is an effective and affordable option, but now that we view obesity as a chronic disease, it's important to have medications that can be used indefinitely. Most new weight-loss drugs are approved for long-term use, but unfortunately the newer drugs can be expensive if they are not covered by insurance."
The study concluded that individuals who stayed on phentermine longer will experience greater weight loss than those who stayed on the drug for three months or less. Additionally, longer-term analysis of the drug was not found to be associated with increases in blood pressure or an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or death.
"In general, the longer patients were on the medicine the more weight loss they had," Lewis said. "Not surprisingly, when patients stopped taking the medicine weight regain was common."
"For patients who respond to and tolerate it, phentermine may be a safe and affordable way to achieve greater and longer lasting weight loss, but we need clinical trials to provide more certainty," Lewis said. "At the moment, there is no change to the FDA labeling so doctors should use caution with the decision about prescribing it longer-term."
Source: Medical Xpress