Is Contrave the Answer to Obesity?

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Are diet pills the answer to the obesity epidemic? The simple answer is ... NO. However, it is a little more complicated than that. I've written a lot about diet pills and how bad I think they are, especially when they are sold over the counter and without doctor supervision. But there is something new, and it could be approved by the FDA as early as January. It's called Contrave, and it's a weight-loss pill that combines an anti-depressant medication with an anti-addiction medication.

According to the story on Yahoo! news,

Contrave is a combination of two well-known drugs, naltrexone (Revia , used to fight addictions) and the antidepressant bupropion (known by a number of names, including Wellbutrin). The drug appears to boost weight loss by changing the workings of the body's central nervous system, the researchers said.

One of the benefits of this drug is that it's not a stimulant. This is from Suite 101 -- Is The New Diet Pill Really Safe?

Diet pills are usually amphetamines (stimulants). They are made to speed up your whole body and therefore your metabolism. Most diet pills are taken off the market within five years of FDA approval. Almost all of them are taken off the market for the same reason, increased heart risks.

Contrave does not work as a stimulant; instead, it is a medication that helps an obese patient with appetite control, and would need to be accompanied by a healthy diet in order for the patient to see any results. It's not a quick fix or a miracle drug, and it's not without side effects. This is from The New York Times - FDA Panel's Backs New Diet Pill:

With Contrave , the big issue was that the drug had only modest effectiveness while also causing a slight increase in blood pressure and pulse rate. That could conceivably raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes, though the trials conducted by Orexigen were too small and too short to determine that.

Both the F.D.A. and the company said that a larger trial to look specifically at risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems would be conducted.

For me, even if this drug is approved by the FDA, the jury is still out on whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks. But I do think Contrave has the potential for success, and this is why...

1. It's not over the counter, and patients would definitely need to be under the care and supervision of a doctor when using this medication.

2. The drug needs to be used in conjunction with a healthy diet, and in the long run the patient may achieve healthier eating habits that they can stick to.

3. The weight loss would be gradual, which usually means there is a greater chance for keeping it off.

4. Because it does include an anti-depressant medication, it may also help to curb "emotional" eating.

5. Most important, it could help the patient avoid the deadly complications of obesity (such as diabetes and heart disease).

It may just be wishful thinking on my part, but overall I'm hopeful about this new weight-loss medication, mostly because I want there to be something that can help. I know that obesity isn't a problem that can be solved with one pill, but if a pill could help, I think that would be a good thing.

This is a video I came across that helps explain the risks and benefits of diet pills.

What do you think? Would you like to see a weight-loss pill like Contrave be approved by the FDA? If your health were in jeopardy due to obesity, would you find a pill like this helpful? Are the benefits worth the risk? Is it a drawback that Contrave isn't a quick fix? Let us know what you think in comments.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at Catherine-Morgan.com

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