Weight Loss Drugs: The Best Prescription Options


Weight loss drugs can be a game-changer for people struggling with obesity or weight-related health issues. Let’s get straight to the point:

  • Prescription weight-loss drugs are intended for those with a BMI over 30 or a BMI over 27 with obesity-related health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Losing 5% to 10% of your total weight using these drugs can significantly improve your health.
  • Common side effects include nausea, constipation, and diarrhea, which usually lessen over time.

There are several FDA-approved options available, each with its pros and cons discussed in detail later in the article.

Obesity and weight management are critical health issues, affecting millions. Prescription drugs are often the last resort when diet and exercise aren’t enough. As someone managing multiple health challenges, you may find these medications helpful. But balance the potential benefits with risks, cost, and side effects.

I’m Sazan Sylejmani, a Pharmacy Manager with experience in weight loss drugs. Let’s explore your options for managing obesity effectively and safely.

FDA-approved weight loss drugs infographic - weight loss drugs infographic step-infographic-4-steps

Understanding Prescription Weight Loss Drugs

Prescription weight loss drugs can be a powerful tool in the fight against obesity, but they’re not for everyone. Let’s break down when and why these medications might be prescribed, and what you need to know.

Criteria for Use

Your doctor might suggest weight loss drugs if:
Your BMI is over 30: This indicates obesity.
Your BMI is over 27: This applies if you have serious health problems related to obesity, like diabetes or high blood pressure.

These drugs are intended to be used alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise, not as a replacement.

BMI Thresholds

BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Here’s a quick reference:

BMI Range Category
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal weight
25 – 29.9 Overweight
30 and above Obesity

If your BMI is 30 or higher, or 27 or higher with weight-related health issues, your doctor might consider prescription weight loss drugs.

Lifestyle Changes

Diet and exercise are the foundation of any weight loss plan. Prescription drugs can help, but they work best when combined with lifestyle changes. Think of these medications as a boost to your efforts, not a magic solution.

Health Conditions

Weight loss drugs can be particularly helpful if you have health conditions linked to obesity. For example:
Diabetes: Some weight loss drugs can help manage blood sugar levels.
High blood pressure: Losing weight can lower your blood pressure.
High cholesterol: Weight loss can improve your cholesterol levels.

It’s important to discuss your full medical history with your doctor. They will consider all factors before recommending a weight loss drug.

Using these medications can lead to significant weight loss. Studies show that combining weight loss drugs with lifestyle changes can result in 3% to 12% more weight loss compared to lifestyle changes alone.

Next, we will dive into the top prescription weight loss drugs available today. Stay tuned to learn about the best options for managing your weight effectively.

Top Prescription Weight Loss Drugs

Semaglutide (Wegovy)

Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that has been making waves in the weight loss community. Known by the brand name Wegovy, it is administered as a weekly injection.


  • Significant Weight Loss: Clinical trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that participants lost an average of 14.9% of their initial body weight.
  • Improved Health Metrics: Besides weight loss, semaglutide helps improve blood sugar levels and other health markers.

Side Effects

  • Common: Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, headache, and fatigue.
  • Serious: Increased risk of thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, kidney disease, and suicidal thoughts.

Tirzepatide (Zepbound)

Tirzepatide, marketed as Zepbound, is another exciting option. It’s a dual GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist and also administered as a weekly injection.


  • High Efficacy: Participants in a New England Journal of Medicine study lost up to 21% of their total body weight.
  • Dual Action: By targeting both GLP-1 and GIP receptors, it reduces appetite and prolongs the feeling of fullness.

Side Effects

  • Common: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Serious: Pancreatitis, gallbladder issues, vision changes, kidney problems, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Liraglutide (Saxenda)

Liraglutide, known as Saxenda, is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that requires a daily injection.


  • Moderate Weight Loss: Patients may lose 5-10% of their body weight.
  • Appetite Control: It helps control appetite and slows stomach emptying.

Side Effects

  • Common: Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, headache, and fatigue.
  • Serious: Increased risk of thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, and gallbladder problems.

Phentermine-Topiramate (Qsymia)

Qsymia combines phentermine (an appetite suppressant) and topiramate (an anticonvulsant). It’s taken as an oral capsule.


  • Effective Appetite Suppressant: Helps reduce cravings and control portion sizes.
  • Combination Drug: The dual-action can enhance weight loss effects.

Side Effects

  • Common: Increased heart rate, insomnia, nervousness, and constipation.
  • Serious: Potential for misuse due to phentermine, birth defects with topiramate, and contraindications for people with cardiovascular issues.

Naltrexone-Bupropion (Contrave)

Contrave is a combination of naltrexone (used for addiction treatment) and bupropion (an antidepressant). It’s available as an oral tablet.


  • Appetite Suppressant: Helps reduce hunger and cravings.
  • Dual Mechanism: Targets both appetite and the brain’s reward system.

Side Effects

  • Common: Nausea, headache, constipation, and high blood pressure.
  • Serious: Increased risk of suicidal thoughts, especially in young adults, and contraindications for people with seizure disorders.

Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)

Orlistat is a lipase inhibitor that blocks the absorption of about 25% of the fat you eat. It’s available as Xenical (prescription) or Alli (over-the-counter).


  • Fat Absorption Inhibitor: Reduces the amount of fat absorbed from the diet.
  • Over-the-Counter Option: Alli is available without a prescription.

Side Effects

  • Common: Passing gas, loose stools, and frequent bowel movements.
  • Serious: Rare cases of serious liver injury and the need to follow a low-fat diet to minimize side effects.

Next, we will explore how these weight loss drugs work at a physiological level. Stay tuned to understand the mechanisms behind these medications and how they help you shed those extra pounds.

How Weight Loss Drugs Work

Understanding how weight loss drugs work can help you make informed decisions about your weight loss journey. These medications can assist in various ways, including appetite suppression, increasing feelings of fullness, reducing fat absorption, and regulating hormones.

Appetite Suppression

One of the main ways weight loss drugs help is by reducing your appetite. When you feel less hungry, it’s easier to stick to a lower-calorie diet. For example, medications like Phentermine-Topiramate (Qsymia) are known for their appetite-suppressing properties. By making you feel less hungry, these drugs can help you eat less and lose weight.


Some weight loss drugs work by making you feel full faster and for a longer time. This is especially true for a class of drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. Semaglutide (Wegovy) and Liraglutide (Saxenda) are examples of these drugs. They mimic the hormone GLP-1, which helps regulate your appetite and makes you feel full. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, semaglutide led to an average weight loss of 14.9% in clinical trials.

Fat Absorption

Another way weight loss drugs can help is by reducing the amount of fat your body absorbs. Orlistat (Xenical, Alli) works by blocking the enzyme that breaks down fat in your diet. This means about 30% of the fat you eat is not absorbed and is excreted instead. This can help reduce your overall calorie intake and support weight loss efforts.

Hormonal Regulation

Weight loss drugs also work by regulating hormones that control hunger and fullness. For instance, Tirzepatide (Zepbound) is a dual GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist. This means it targets two different hormones to help regulate your appetite and improve insulin sensitivity. Such hormonal regulation can make it easier to stick to a healthy eating plan and lose weight.

Understanding these mechanisms can help you choose the right medication for your needs. Whether it’s suppressing your appetite, making you feel full, reducing fat absorption, or regulating hormones, weight loss drugs offer various ways to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Next, we’ll look at the effectiveness and side effects of these weight loss drugs. Stay tuned to learn more about what you can expect when using these medications.

Effectiveness and Side Effects

When considering weight loss drugs, it’s crucial to weigh their effectiveness against potential side effects. Here’s a breakdown to help you understand what you can expect.

Weight Loss Percentages

Weight loss drugs can help you lose anywhere from 3% to 15% of your total body weight. For example, taking Semaglutide (Wegovy) can result in a weight loss of 5% to 15% of body weight. Meanwhile, drugs like Liraglutide (Saxenda) and Phentermine-Topiramate (Qsymia) typically help you lose about 5% to 10% of your body weight.

Even a modest weight loss of 5% to 10% can have significant health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and triglycerides.

Common Side Effects

Most weight loss drugs come with some common side effects. These are usually mild and may lessen over time:

  • Nausea: Feeling queasy is a frequent complaint.
  • Constipation: This is another common issue.
  • Diarrhea: Some drugs affect how your body absorbs fat, leading to diarrhea.
  • Headaches: Many people taking weight loss pills experience headaches.

common side effects - weight loss drugs

Serious Side Effects

While common side effects are generally mild, some weight loss drugs can pose serious health risks:

  • Kidney Problems: Certain medications can strain your kidneys.
  • Liver Injury: Some weight loss pills can cause liver damage.
  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas is another serious risk.

Important Note: Always inform your healthcare provider about your medical history and any other medications you are taking to avoid dangerous interactions.

Long-Term Use

The length of time you take a weight loss drug depends on whether it helps you lose weight and improve your health. If you’ve lost enough weight and haven’t had serious side effects, your healthcare provider may suggest long-term use.

However, if you haven’t lost at least 5% of your body weight after taking a full dose for 3 to 6 months, your provider will likely change your treatment plan.

Many people gain back some of the weight they lost when they stop taking weight-loss drugs. Practicing healthy lifestyle habits can help limit weight gain.

Next, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about weight loss drugs. Stay tuned to learn more about the most successful medications, celebrity weight loss routines, and cost comparisons.

Frequently Asked Questions about Weight Loss Drugs

What is the most successful medication for weight loss?

One of the most successful weight loss drugs is phentermine. Phentermine is an appetite suppressant that can help people lose a significant amount of weight. According to studies, people taking phentermine can lose about 5-10% of their starting weight within 12 weeks. However, it’s important to combine the medication with a healthy diet and regular exercise for the best results.

Another highly effective option is semaglutide (Wegovy). Clinical trials have shown that people taking Wegovy can lose up to 15% of their body weight over a year. This medication works by mimicking a hormone that targets areas of the brain involved in regulating appetite and food intake.

How did Kelly Clarkson lose all her weight?

Kelly Clarkson’s weight loss journey is often attributed to a combination of healthy lifestyle changes rather than prescription medications. She has spoken openly about her well-being routine, which includes:

  • Walking: Regular walking helps burn calories and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Healthy Diet: Clarkson follows a balanced diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. She has also mentioned eliminating certain processed foods from her diet.

These lifestyle changes can be very effective for weight loss and overall health improvement.

What is the weight loss drug $1000 a month?

The weight loss drug that costs around $1,000 a month is Ozempic (semaglutide). Ozempic is a GLP-1 receptor agonist used primarily to treat type 2 diabetes, but it also has significant weight loss benefits.

The high cost of Ozempic can be a barrier for many. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the annual estimated net price of Wegovy, another brand of semaglutide, is around $13,600. This high price is due to the manufacturing costs and the lack of generic alternatives.

Next, we’ll dive into the conclusion and explore how Westmont Pharmacy can support your weight loss journey with personalized care and prescription compounding.


At Westmont Pharmacy, we understand that weight loss is a personal and challenging journey. That’s why we’re committed to offering personalized care to help you achieve your health goals.

Personalized Care

Our team at Westmont Pharmacy is dedicated to providing individualized support. We know that every patient is unique, and so are their health needs. We work closely with you and your healthcare provider to find the best weight loss medications tailored to your specific situation. Whether you’re dealing with side effects or need help understanding your prescription, we’re here for you every step of the way.

Prescription Compounding

Sometimes, standard medications aren’t the best fit for everyone. That’s where our prescription compounding services come in. We can customize medications to meet your unique needs. For instance, if you have trouble swallowing pills, we can create a liquid form. If you have specific allergies, we can formulate a version of your medication without the allergen.

Weight Loss Support

We don’t just provide medications; we offer comprehensive support. From helping you navigate insurance coverage to ensuring you understand how to use your medications effectively, our goal is to make your weight loss journey as smooth as possible. We also offer medication synchronization, so all your prescriptions are ready at the same time, reducing the hassle of multiple pharmacy trips.

Ready to take the next step in your weight loss journey? Visit our Prescription Weight Loss page to learn more about how we can help you achieve your health goals. We’re here to support you with expert advice and personalized care.

By choosing Westmont Pharmacy, you’re not just getting a prescription; you’re gaining a partner dedicated to your health and well-being. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you on your path to a healthier you.