What pharmacological developments have occurred over the last several years that control appetite?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Development of pharmacological medications to control appetite has been a difficult process, as the number and type of hormones involved in regulating or stimulating appetite has grown with continued research into the problem of obesity.  Most recently, the hormone leptin was identified as a possible appetite suppressant produced by fat cells, but the latest indications are that exploitation of that knowledge for development of a more effective treatment for obesity remains a long-term proposition.  The most promising pharmacological developments in the treatment of obesity are currently focusing on the hormone ghrelin, which is produced in the stomach and increases appetite.  Ghrelin flows to the brain and stimulates appetite by affecting the hypothalamus gland.  Ghrelin’s association with fatty tissue in the abdominal region is considered a viable target for the development of new medications for the treatment of obesity.  Unfortunately, as with the discovery of leptin and its role in regulating appetite researchers have not yet succeeded in developing a medication that effectively controls the production of ghrelin. 

While medical researchers and practitioners continue to emphasize the importance of diet and exercise in combating obesity, they also recognize that the pharmacological approach is an essential component of bringing the obesity epidemic under control.  Towards that end, a number of medications have been identified by physicians at the Mayo Clinic as potentially beneficial.  These medications include Orlistat, Lorcaserin (Belviq, a new and promising drug), Phentermine-topiramate, and Phentermine.  Each one of these medications works differently, for example, Orlistat (Xenical) blocks the absorption of fat in the digestive system while Belviq functions in the brain, and each has potential side effects.  [www.mayoclinic.com/health/obesity/DS00314/DSECTIION=treatments-andn-drugs]  Belviq is the newest, having only recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Another new medication, however, is Beloranib, which functions more like Orlistat than Belviq by blocking the absorption of fat by the digestive system.

These are the main and most recent pharmacological developments in the area of appetite control or weight loss.  

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