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Current pharmacological approaches to the treatment of obesity


Although comprehensive obesity treatment programmes were shown to induce weight loss and to improve risk factors and comorbidities, the weight reduction is moderate and most patients will rapidly regain weight. For these reasons, drugs have been developed or are in development to support and maintain weight loss. At present, two drugs are available for the adjunct treatment of obesity. Sibutramine is a centrally acting inhibitor of noradrenaline and serotonine reuptake, thereby decreasing caloric intake and increasing energy expenditure. Orlistat is a specific lipase inhibitor that impairs fat absorption, thereby reducing fat uptake. Both drugs have been found to be effective and safe in a number of clinical studies for up to two years. The current experience with these drugs raises questions related to the long-term efficacy with particular reference to cardiovascular end-points. In addition, other current and future pharmacological principles for weight reduction are discussed. There is no doubt that an evidence-based rational pharmacological treatment of obesity is still in an early stage.

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Correspondence to H Hauner.

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Hauner, H. Current pharmacological approaches to the treatment of obesity. Int J Obes 25 (Suppl 1), S102–S106 (2001).

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  • obesity
  • pharmacotherapy
  • appetite-suppressant drugs
  • sibutramine
  • orlistat

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