Pharmacotherapy for obesity


Professor Bernard M.Y. Cheung, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TH, UK
Tel.: + 121 4146874
Fax: + 121 4141355


Obesity is associated with increased risk of conditions such as hypertension, dyslipidaemia, diabetes mellitus, and obstructive sleep apnoea. Pharmacotherapy for obesity should be considered in combination with lifestyle changes in obese patients, or overweight patients with other conditions that put them at risk of developing heart disease. Sibutramine and orlistat are the only two anti-obesity medications approved for long-term use. Sibutramine is a serotonergic and adrenergic drug that reduces food intake. Orlistat is a gastrointestinal lipase inhibitor that interferes with fat absorption. However, it commonly causes flatulence and diarrhoea. Rimonabant is the first of a series of endocannabinoid receptor antagonists. It was approved by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) as an adjunct to diet and exercise in treating obesity in 2006. However, despite the extensive clinical trial data, EMEA announced in 2008 that it has recommended suspension of rimonabant because of its psychiatric side effects. Studies evaluating the long-term safety and efficacy of anti-obesity agents are needed.