FDA-Approved Weight Loss Medications

What Does FDA-Approved Mean?

There is a lot of confusion about the approval status of many so-called "weight loss medications". I'd like to try to clear some of that up. 

First of all, for the purposes of this discussion, the term "FDA-approved weight loss medication" means ONLY that

  1. The substance in question is a drug and is NOT a food, a cosmetic, a device or a supplement
  2. The drug can be either over the counter or prescription
  3. The drug must carry labeling that specifically says that it is indicated (recommended) for the treatment of obesity
Notice that in the above description I have specified nothing about the details of how, how long, or under what clinical circumstances a drug should or should not be prescribed for the treatment of obesity, I am merely clarifying that the term "FDA-approved weight loss medication" means a drug that is specifically approved for treating obesity under SOME circumstances.

With that said, in March of the year 2012, this is a complete list of all FDA-approved weight loss drugs:

There is Only One FDA-Approved Over-The-Counter Weight Loss Drug

  • Alli (Orlistat)

There is Only One Prescription But Non-Controlled FDA-Approved Weight Loss Drug

  • Xenical (Orlistat)

There are Four Schedule IV FDA-Approved Weight Loss Drugs

  • Phentermine
  • Diethylpropion
  • Qsymia (Phentermine/Topiramate)
  • Belviq (Lorcaserin)

There are Two Schedule III FDA-Approved Weight Loss Drugs

  • Phendimetrazine
  • Benzphetamine*
In the sub-pages to this topics I will describe each of these medications in more detail.