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Keywords:

  • cost;
  • cholesterol;
  • blood pressure;
  • diabetes;
  • drugs

Abstract

GREENWAY, FRANK L., DONNA H. RYAN, GEORGE A. BRAY, JENNIFER C. ROOD, ELIZABETH W. TUCKER, AND STEVEN R. SMITH. Pharmaceutical cost savings of treating obesity with weight loss medications. Obes Res.

Objective: To evaluate, in compliant patients, the pharmaceutical costs of treating obesity with fenfluraminel/mazindol, fenfluramine/phentermine, caffeine/ephedrine, or mazindol relative to the pharmaceutical costs of treating obesity-related comorbid conditions and reducing cardiovascular risk.

Methods and Procedures: Subjects were between 18 and 60 years of age with a BMI of >30 kg/m2. Pharmaceutical costs were evaluated in 73 of 220 subjects taking medications for diabetes, hyperlipidemia, or hypertension before and after treatment using fenfluramine with mazindol or phentermine. The pharmaceutical cost of weight loss, cardiac risk reduction, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol reduction was calculated for fenfluramine with mazindol or phentermine, caffeine with ephedrine, or mazindol alone, and compared to approved lipid-lowering medications.

Results: Losses of 6% to 10% of initial body weight reduced pharmacy costs $122. 64/month for insulin treated diabetes, $42. 92/month for sulfonylurea-treated diabetes, $61. O7/month for hyperlipidemia treated with medication, and $0. 20/month for hypertension treated with medication. Blood pressure and laboratory evidence of insulin resistance improved in all medication groups. Caffeine/ephedrine was most cost-effective of the three treatments in reducing weight, cardiac risk, and LDL cholesterol.

Discussion: Obesity medications produced a substantial weight loss in compliant patients and resulted in a net pharmaceutical cost savings compared to treating obesity related comorbid conditions.