Medicines for long-term obesity management

Medicines for long-term obesity management

CPD Hours: .5
Current as at 13 June 2022
"Obesity is always genetic or epigenetic in origin in an obesogenic environment. Dietary therapy is required for weight loss. Drugs to suppress hunger and increase satiety may assist while losing weight and are essential for most patients in the weight maintenance period. A combination of drugs may be needed. A personalised approach must be used when selecting the appropriate weight loss drug for the patient. This considers possible contraindications, the method of administration and adverse effects, and includes discussing the cost of the treatment. Several drugs do not have an approved indication in Australia for weight loss."

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Discuss the pharmacological approach to obesity management

Course Content

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2021), “In 2017–2018, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity in adults was 42.4%, and there were no significant differences between men and women among all adults or by age group”. In this same time period, the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%. This shows that not only is obesity becoming more prevalent but there is also a steep increase in those who are severely obese.

Patients with obesity are at an increased risk of developing comorbidities such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, stroke, and even certain cancers.3 4 Consequently, they have an increased risk of death due to cardiovascular complications, which is the most prevalent cause of death in patients with obesity.5 Another negative consequence is the cost of combating the obesity epidemic, estimated to take up around 16%–18% of the total health expenditures in well-developed countries.

Weight loss is a pathway to health improvement for patients with obesity-associated risk factors and comorbidities. Medications approved for chronic weight management can be useful adjuncts to lifestyle change for patients who have been unsuccessful with diet and exercise alone. Many medications commonly prescribed for diabetes, depression, and other chronic diseases have weight effects, either to promote weight gain or produce weight loss. Knowledgeable prescribing of medications, choosing whenever possible those with favourable weight profiles, can aid in the prevention and management of obesity and thus improve health.

Recent insights into the pathophysiologic underlying mechanisms of obesity have led to the discovery of several promising drug targets and novel therapeutic strategies to address the global obesity epidemic and its comorbidities. Current phapharmacological options for obesity management are largely limited in number and of modest efficacy/safety profile. Therefore, the need for safe and more efficacious new agents is urgent.

Learning Outcomes

In this session, you will:

  • Discuss the pharmacological approach to obesity management
  • Review the drugs available on the Australian market to assist in the management of obesity
  • Review medicines that support weight loss in obesity
  • Understand the cost associated with drug treatments of obesity

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