Dieters today only have to do an online search and they will be bombarded with a mind boggling amount of diet pill options.
However, anyone who seeks the help of their GP may very well receive advice about diet and exercise, but unless they are already seriously obese, or their extra poundage is aggravating another health condition, they are unlikely to be provided with a prescription for a weight loss drug.
Few such drugs are approved for use in the UK, and some that had prior approval have since been deemed unsafe, so even if the situation does warrant a prescription the options are probably limited to just two UK approved weight loss drugs:
Reductil and Acomplia
The weight loss drugs Reductil and Acomplia were both subjected to extensive trials before they were made available as prescription-only weight loss drugs in the UK, but both of them had to be taken off the market when they were linked to dangerous side effects the studies had failed to reveal.
Reductil is an appetite suppressant that works by triggering elevated levels of serotonin. Its use was first sanctioned in 2001, but it was later found to increase the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes.
Around 3,000 adverse reactions were reported since its introduction.
Acomplia is also an appetite suppressant, but it further assists weight loss by blocking receptors utilized by the endocannabinoid system, thereby influencing the processes that are necessary for regulating energy balance and sugar and fat metabolism.
Acomplia was withdrawn from the market after it was discovered its use may lead to mental problems and suicidal tendencies.
Acomplia is the trade name for the drug Rimonabant, also known as SR141716
Orlistat is generally distributed under the Xenical brand name. It has the power to interfere with the normal function of the digestive enzymes that process dietary fats. Each gram of fat provides nine calories so, by disrupting the digestive process, Orlistat can be very effective for lowering the amount of calories the body receives. The fact that doctors prescribe it is the best testament to how well the drug works, but it is not a magic pill. The prescribing doctor will normally also provide a strict diet and exercise schedule.
Although Orlistat is deemed safe as a prescription-only weight management drug, the restrictions on its availably are not without good reason. It can cause a number of side effects and requires qualified supervision.
Possible Orlistat side effects include:
- Swelling of the lips, face, and throat
- Kidney-related problems
- Pain while urinating
- Breathing difficulties
- Blood in the urine
- Abdominal pain
- Swollen ankles
Phentermine's reputation for providing powerful appetite suppression has caused it to become one of the most sought after diet pills in the world. However, it is closely related to amphetamine and can be just as addictive; so the reasons for its prescription-only status should need no further explaining.
Phentermine provides appetite suppression by triggering the release of specific hormones that would normally only be secreted during times of danger, when the body's built-in need for self-preservation enables it to quell feelings of hunger that could otherwise prove to be a dangerous distraction.
This ability is called the “fight or flight” response and has been an inherent part of the human genetic makeup since the time of early man, when dangerous situations were a common part of everyday life. Phentermine's ability to bypass the need for danger and stimulate hormone secretion a pill at a time makes it a valuable weight loss drug but, like Orlistat, it is designed to be used with diet and exercise and is equally capable of causing unpleasant side effects.
Phentermine-related side effects can include:
- Changes in bowel movement (constipation/diarrhoea)
- Unpleasant tastes in the mouth
- Changes to the state of mind
- Swelling of the feet or legs
- Elevated blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Problems walking
- Skin irritation
- Loss of libido
- Racing heart
- Dry mouth
When the potential for so many side effects is coupled with the drug's addictive nature, it could be seen as being a risky choice, but used in the correct manner, under a doctor's supervision, the potential benefits far outweigh any potential for harm.
Bearing in mind the availability of so many weight management supplements, it is quite surprising how limited the options are when it comes to prescription-provided medications. It really just comes down a battle between two, with Phentermine being the most likely drug to be prescribed.
This is a fact that in no way detracts from the abilities of Orlistat. Fat blockers are at their most useful for treating people, who eat high fat diets. Some dieters receive their excess calories from other sources, but Phentermine's appetite supressing abilities can be effective for dieters of all kinds—including those with a love of greasy foods. If the appetite is not there the food intake will be reduced, be it high fat food or food that is laden with sugars and starches, so Phentermine is easily the most useful of the two prescription-only weight management medications presently available in the UK.