It has been 13 years since the FDA approved any new drugs that address weight loss, until this past year.  Two have come on the market: Qsymia and Belviq. 

Over the counter diet pills were a staple of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, and the jolt of energy they provided led to abuse of “uppers,” as they were called.

In the 1990’s a new prescription-diet pill combination known as Phen-Fen was all the rage, until it was found to cause coronary problems and was removed from the market. One of the medications in that combination, Fentermine, is still available as a stand-alone weight loss pill, and is half of Qsymia.

Both pills require patients meet requirements based on their Body-Mass-Index, or BMI.

“In general, if patients have tried to lose weight on their own and haven’t been able to do it,” Dr. Kevin Hwang, a weight management specialist from the UT Health Sciences Center in Houston told KTRH News, “And if their BMI is 30 or above without regard to any medical conditions, or if their BMI is 27 or above and have a complication of obesity like high blood pressure or diabetes, then they are a reasonable candidate for weight loss medications.”

“Every drug has side effects,” Dr. Hwang cautions, “I think the drugs work okay, and they have their place, but there are side effects.” 

Most health insurance policies don’t cover diet medications.